“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.” (Soren Kierkegaard)
In 2009 I was at Lynn University to facilitate a series of presentations for faculty and students. During one segment of a studio interview I reflected on what effective teachers do for their students. Beyond academic achievement (which is obviously non-negotiable), we need to help our students honor their past, celebrate their present and look to their future.
Honor the Past. The past, obviously, is our history. It has been the vehicle that has carried us to this moment. I encourage my students to understand and respect their past. Sure there are moments, events, people and issues that may be troubling at best and traumatic at worst. “Honoring” in this context means to recognize that from those times, you have grown into the person you are. It does not diminish what happened as Jennifer Gilbert’s story shows. The past should not be an excuse—nor should it be a shackle. It happened; cannot be undone. There is no mulligan.
I have watched organizational managers state they were not responsible for the past they inherited. They would not be bogged down in memories. I agree. Of course these new folks did not create the history of the organization. However, they are creating a new history. And to not understand and respect what their organization has gone through—the culture that their followers have experienced—is short-sighted and disrespectful. NEVER lose sight of institutional memory. How can the organization move forward? (See Embrace the Future below.)
Celebrate the Present. Dr. Leo Buscaglia once opined that “the past is a cancelled check, the future a promissory note, and the present is cash in hand.” How true. The present is all we truly have. While there is wisdom in preparing for the future, we can get lost in it and miss what we are truly experiencing. The present is our time to live and coincidentally create our evolving history. When we hold on to the past (going beyond honoring to “stuck in the past”) it robs us of our present. When we live in the future, we vacate the present. We cannot get the present back.
Video recommendation for the week:
The time for life is today.
Embrace the Future. For some, the future is scary. For others, that unknown is cause for excitement rather than trepidation. There is, to be sure, a practicality in looking to the future. Think, for example, retirement planning. The crisis faced by the baby boom generation has been well documented. Planning for the future takes place in the present. Today is the tomorrow you prepared for (or not) yesterday.
Students enter college with their dreams—what they hope for in the future. In many ways, those of us who have the privilege to work in the classroom help coach these folks to their future. Inspirational and far-sighted leaders have a responsibility to focus on the future.
Soren Kierkegaard reminded us that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
As you look to the new week that you will make for yourself be mindful to honor, celebrate and embrace.
Make it a wonderful week— H.T.R.B. as needed.
Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://stevepiscitelli.com/webinars.html).
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.
What a powerful and moving story Jennifer Gilbert has. It is inspiring how she overcame such a traumatic experience.
Build on the past….for a remarkable future. 🙂
This is a great post, From my understanding it means that we shouldn’t forget where we come from and build ourselves up from past situations in order to make the future better.
True….remember and build.
Under “Honor The Past” you mention a sentence “The past should not be an excuse—nor should it be a shackle.” It touched me in a way, because people hold grudges for a very long time and lose sight of their goal. I was a victim of that, but I found a way to forgive and let go.
Forgiveness can be very liberating.
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I totally agree with you, for some people, especially those with bad experience in the past, they just want to forget everything that has something to do with the past. I truly believe that for somebody to really move on, one has to remember the past to glean lessons that one may get from past experience, good or bad. I love those sentences: “Honor the Past. Celebrate the Present. Embrace the Future.” May I use them for the diamond anniversary of our hospital?. Thanks!
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