Looking back and failing forward

For over a decade and a half, my job was to look in to the past.  My job was to understand the processes, procedures, decision making criteria, technology support and routines of people and their daily lives at work.  I needed to know every detail, fact, button press, meeting and exception.  Every. Little. Intricacy.

 

I needed to know all these things, because if I knew everything, then I could plan for it, mitigate the risk, limit any future surprises; my job was to improve the daily grind to a daily flow, with the aim to make work lives better.

 

So quotes and phrases like ‘don’t look back you aren’t going that way’ or ‘the past should be left in the past, otherwise it can destroy your future’ have been really grating on me.  And being told not to keep looking at the details, data and history or being advised to stop deciphering each word and intonation, date and image enraged me!  But I only just realised why.

 

Looking back is ingrained in me.  Looking back has always helped me prepare for the future.

Unpicking every single detail is ingrained in me.  Details are how you see patterns, flaws and have confidence you have all bases covered when you rip it all out, knock it all down, rebuild the foundations and then put back in the good and leave out the unnecessary, the obsolete.

 

And as I used to lie awake in my consultancy days, or half unconscious, even subconsciously scrolling through all the details in my mind, I have been doing that too for the last 3 months;  crescendo-ing in to incredible, unsquashable noise in my head last week.

 

And just as it used to in those days, it would all suddenly fall in to place.  All resistance to options and ideas fall away and a path become clear.

 

As I had my final Detox Bath on Friday, I was listening to Liz Gilbert in Big Magic and she was referring to the common quote seen so much these days, ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

 

Personally, I am not a fan.  The focus too much on failing.  The intonation that you are scared to do anything.

 

But I am a fan of Liz.  She turned it round for me.  ‘What would you do if you knew you would fail?’  The implication that you would do something regardless of the outcome because you loved it so much.

 

And in that moment, that realisation, I knew the way forward.  The noise stopped.  Well, not really, but I was able to see it as just unhelpful, damaging thoughts again and so acknowledge them and let them scroll past.

 

And that’s not to say there won’t be hiccups, mishaps, mistakes and overseen errors along the way…  but I will handle it.  Just like I always have done.

 

the-past

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