Mental Time Travel
You're paid to manage the day-to-day, and the biggest threats to daily progress are what happened in the past, and what “might” happen in the future. The past and the future are the enemies of today!
When you cling to the past or worry about the future, you waste today! And when you lead through a recession, you have no time to waste!
- Disgust, frustration and anger are emotions about past events.
- Uncertainty, anxiety and doubt our emotions about future events.
These negative emotions are distracting, soul sucking and demotivating. They are time wasters, confidence killers and excuse makers. As a manager, you have to avoid them, and you have to help your team avoid them, too.
We always get the same two questions:
- Don't we have to learn from the past? and
- Don't we have to plan for the future?
And the answer is "yes"! But most of you listening to this episode are front-line and middle-managers. You're implementers, executers and operators. You're paid to keep customers happy, to keep projects on track and the trains running on time. Most strategic decisions are made above your current pay grade. Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't think strategically, but you need to focus on the strategic execution of today's plan!
Your executive team has analysts, strategists, and consultants that study the past and worry about the future. That's their role, not yours! Your role is to get the very best out of your team, day-in and day-out. That's your mission, and your team can't do it if they're stuck in the past or worried about the future.
Yes, you should learn from the past, but the best learning opportunities are captured in real time. So focus on day-to-day learning.
And yes, you should plan for the future. But don't worry about potential threats. Deal with the more likely threats that are right in front of you.
Mental time travel is both a gift and a curse. We can learn from the past and plan for the future, and that's the gift! But we can also get “stuck in the past” and fixate on the most unlikely of threats, that never are going to happen. And then we procrastinate, make excuses and take a wait-and-see attitude! And all the while, life and the business at hand just passes us by.
Remember, most negative emotions are triggered by things you can't control. You can't change the past and you can't control the future, but you can do something about today!