George Santayana once said: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Understanding your past is crucial to prepare for your future. People are quick to believe that the past doesn’t determine the future. Although there is some truth to this sentiment, it is primarily misleading and quite alarming.
You can’t control (or change) the past; it’s done. Does this mean what you were known for in the past will forever define you in the future? No, not necessarily. However, if you aren’t acutely familiar with your history- good and bad, such naivety will most likely prevent you from breaking patterns of poor behavior, or better yet carrying on healthy habits. History has an odd sense of naturally repeating itself. Habits create patterns and patterns repeat themselves.
Ever wonder why some organizations succeed and others fail? It boils down to history- some refuse to study the past. Where would society be today if we never understood where we’ve come from. We wouldn’t have technological advances, strong nations and healthy economies. We most likely would still be beating our chests and living in rock caves. Organizations are no exception. Rather than learn from old ways, they tend to create new products and promotions only to expect different results. Sounds a little bit like insanity to me. Successful leaders and entrepreneurs understand the power and importance of embracing the past and fully leverage it to make sound business decisions in the future.
I work for an awesome start-up that is massively disrupting the financial technology (#fintech) sector. In the short time Bristlecone Holdings has been in business, we have created several successful brands. Innovation and excellence drive us to produce our best work and we are constantly keeping our past in mid, albeit short, to understand exactly where we want to be in several years from now. We haven’t had the luxury of being in business for decades and following well-established business models. Yet, this has served us well because we constantly obsess over our past and make quick changes for our future. This is why we have been able to launch five different verticals in nearly two short years.
Where you come from matters and is a strong determinant of where you will end up. Don’t take your history for granted- good or bad- embrace it. Study what worked well and what failed. Then determine where you want to end up next. Leverage your past to your advantage rather than let it define you.
What’s your take on this? Do you believe your past defines your future? I want to hear from you! Leave me a comment or send me a tweet. And make sure to check back here soon as I highlight a few organizations that have both failed and succeeded in embracing their past.