Why looking back is crucial to move – a business – forward
The end of the year is a special time. Not just because of all of the festivities, but because it is the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on the past year.
Many people are advocates of looking ahead. After all, we can’t change the past, so what’s wrong with focusing on creating a better future? Fair point. But then we have the other school that pleads that if we ignore our past experiences, good and bad, we could miss out on life lessons. It can be the difference between forging ahead and making the same mistakes over and over again. Also, very true.
Confucius once said:
“By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
Second, by imitation, which is easiest;
and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
With this being said let us take to pieces what Confucius said and break it down in reflection, imitation and experience as three ways of gaining wisdom.
Let us start with the type of people that imitate the past. Going from best practices, success stories or best behaviors. If one blindly imitates wisdom without understanding the background and knowledge paired with this wisdom one might bash their head against reality. For example you read about a success story about employer branding in the 70’s. We bet you that the strategy of higher incentives will not work today in 2022. Because the reality of people has changed over there years. Nowadays people care about incentives, but they care more about their work-life balance.
Another way to learn wisdom is experience. Stone cold experience. Sometimes we learn things the hard way. For example, your company has a business strategy which was supposed to be beneficial after 3 years. 2 years in you notice that the obtained results stray further and further away from the anticipated results. But stubborn as you are and without doing the necessary reflection in year 3, you’re forced to face the facts and learnt it the hard way that the obtained strategy was not the correct one for your (business or personal) objectives.
Which brings us to the last manner of learning wisdom: reflection. Reflection can be defined as a process of exploring and examining ourselves, our perspectives, attributes, experiences and actions/interactions. It helps us gain insight and see how to move forward. (University of Edinburgh, 2009).
Another definition of reflection is “a thought occurring in consideration or meditation". Reflection is one of the qualities of consciousness. Consciousness is like a mirror that reflects reality as it is. To regain such ability, one must meditate and cleanse his awareness from all garbage of nescience. Then his consciousness is unspoiled and can reflect reality. (The Buddha's Teaching and the Ambiguity of Existence, R. G. de S. Wettimuny)
Either way, we would like to emphasize the importance knowing why looking back is crucial for moving forward. At ADM we believe addressing and resolving past experiences can help you to attain business and personal growth, and put you on a smoother, quicker path to success.
Beneath you cand find some compelling reasons to take the time to reflect:
(neelraman.com, 2016) (alchemytree.com, 2019)
1. You can speed up your learning curve:
By knowing where and when things went sideways, you can anticipate this and do better next time. Successful people evaluate their previous results and what they did to get them. This helps them to make better choices in the future and shortens the learning curve. This is experience but where has been reflected over.
2. You can predict trends:
As the saying goes, “History often repeats itself.” Consider real estate or investing trends. They usually operate in cycles, whether it’s time-based or activity-based. When you look at the past, you can intelligently predict trends and patterns and use them to get you to the results you want.
3. You can get inspired:
This is thoughtful imitating and/or adjusting. A great part of being humans is being able to learn from other humans. Instead of focusing only on your past, you can learn from those who’ve gone before you. Chances are other people have already done what you want to do or achieve, so it’s smart to model them. But this is no guarantee to achieve the same results.
4. You can build up your confidence:
Instead of always looking at things that didn’t go well, you can use your past to acknowledge your successes. You do not have to dwell on the past and stand still. Jacqueline Walker explains this in her article for Everyday Power: “Looking back on both our successes and our failures holds great merit. Remembering our successes can provide a quick boost to our confidence and uplift our spirits as we forge ahead seeking to add to our achievements. Similarly, reviewing our failures can serve us well, because in many instances they remind us of what we shouldn’t do or of things, places or people to steer clear of in order to keep driving on the road that leads to success.”
So, with the end of the year just around the corner we wish you an insightful moment of looking back and we ourselves are looking forward to seeing and hearing from you in 2023!