I know now that while I cannot control what may happen to me in life, I can control who I want to be after it happens. It’s a very simple, yet powerful statement. So instead of worrying about life and what it has in store for me, I throw my hands up in the air and enjoy the ride. You can, too.
This week I circle back to February of 2014 when I posted “Honor the Past. Celebrate the Present. Embrace the Future.” Something about it has resonated with my blog followers.
Today it remains, by far, the most popular post on my blog. With just shy of 20,000 views it outpaces the second most popular post by more than 3x the views.
In that Number 1 blog post (which I have included below) I provided a link to a Jennifer Gilbert article that describes a life-threatening event—and how what happened to her led to what happened later in life.
The past was horrific, but it did not create a permanent roadblock for her present or future.
Or as Toni Morrison (attributed) said, “You wanna fly? You gotta give up the thing that weighs you down.”
Enjoy the most popular post on this blog (and don’t forget to click on the Jennifer Gilbert link within the post):
“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, 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.”
Make it a wonderful week and HTRB has needed.
You will find my latest book, Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit, in
eBook ($2.99) and paperback ($9.99) format. Click here.
My dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. Please, check out her blog.
And you can still order:
- Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019, print and e-book). Available on Amazon. More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at the above link.
- Stories about Teaching: No Need to be an Island (2017, print and e-book). Available on Amazon. One college’s new faculty onboarding program uses the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos (see the link above) would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
You can find my podcasts (all fifty episodes) here.
You will find more about me at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2022. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®
Atlantic Beach, Florida