Someone told me once that the only thing that matters, the only thing you need to worry about, is what you do right now. The past is no longer relevant, and the future does not yet exist.
I believe reality is slightly more complicated than that. You want to learn from the past, and plan for the future. But neither of those mean much if you don’t effectively execute today.
What happened in the past certainly colors what you do today. It might limit your options. But you’re wasting even more time if you’re crying over spilled milk.
I’ll never forget a particular board meeting for a company I worked at years ago. We had recently fired the CMO, and the founder (who was also chairman of the board) had spent the last five minutes complaining about decisions that CMO had made, how it had led to issues with results in the past quarter. It was obvious he was still upset and emotional about it.
One of the company’s investors let him vent, then quietly responded by saying: “Well, if it would make you feel better, we could all go over to her house and fire her again.”
That comment broke the tension and immediately got the conversation re-focused on what needed to happen now.
Yes, you want to learn from the past. Mistakes that were made. Lessons learned both good and bad. But none of that matters anymore. What matters is what you do now.
We make mistakes all the time. But I’m convinced that we’re measured not by those mistakes, but how we react to them. How we respond. What we do next.
What we do in the present colors and justifies what people think and how they now choose to act.
Learn and reflect, fine. But quickly after that, suck it up and move on.