"...I am going tell you all of the mistakes that I have made..."
Hindsight is 20/20 there is no disputing that, looking back in time presents us facts that are 100% accurate, and unchangeable.
As we enter a new year, boardrooms are full of executives working strategies and planning for new successes, and maybe even more timely, individuals begin planning New Year’s resolutions to make themselves better people and make their lives more successful.
Companies and people spend their time planning how to re-invent themselves, starting with a clean slate. Only to realize a year ago, they sat in identical meetings or self-reflection and find that their plans did not meet or even come close to expectations.
I suggest that a clean slate is a canvas destined for failure. Thousands of years of successes and failures have no place on a clean slate, and ignoring the opportunity to reference all of mans history is a self important ego trip bound for disappointment.
Let’s instead, start with a slate that is full of retrospection on successes, what DID go right, what DID work, and take the humbling approach on building planning on those items. Understanding of course that in every life or business, there are limitless areas to improve. But taking the time to analyse and dissect the successes is the buildings are fully proven building blocks to start constructing the new year. Repeating factors that result in successes obviously are a much better foundation than starting afresh with unproven, overambitious tactics.
Less critical than successes and certainly not as motivating to review are failures experienced. Once again dissecting failed projects down to the root cause can help in repeating poor outcomes.
I had a high school shop teacher who introduced himself on the first day and announced that for this semester he said, “I am going tell you all of the mistakes that I have made”. He continued on, that by us being taught all of the common mistakes made, we will not repeat them and will by default learn the correct methods. This profound teaching philosophy has been a value to me a good number of times.
Maybe trusting our perfect 20/20 hindsight is a much more trustworthy source in our efforts to improve ourselves and is significantly better than relying on good intentions, and a completely random series of events that will affect our future. Until I can find a crystal ball that had impeccable accuracy, I continue to start every work planning meeting or personal improvement exercise... is with the simple question, “what went right last year and why”.