“Well, that happened.”
That’s still one of my favorite movies quotes. It’s uttered (actually more “admitted”) by Bob Berrenger (Alec Baldwin) upon crawling out of an upside down car accident in the movie State and Main. He seems a bit dazed, but not very concerned, despite suffering from a bad cut on his head and, subsequently, walking away from the scene of the accident. He’s not worried about his past actions and mistakes…..he just moves on. That comes back to get him, but I will let you check out the movie….it’s excellent.
Taking the context of that quote a different way, I’ve spent some time thinking about how this kind of detached view of my past and future can affect me and my business.
The word “detachment” scares a lot of people. Common definitions lean towards having no emotions and being impartial, which implies being cold and uncaring. This is not my understanding. Instead, I define detachment as living in a place where things do not control me. It is a place of inner freedom and allows me much more latitude in each moment, especially when considering the past and the future. The past, having happened, can have things from which I learn, but is now a mental construct. Giving it up means I no longer have grudges, bad experiences, mistakes and even successes that can control me. The future, over which we all agonize at one time or another, is another mental construct. I want to do good and have a positive impact in my life and the outcomes for my clients through my business, and I work toward those things in the moment. But trying to bend the future and the “arrow of time” to my ambition and wishes will not happen. The future doesn’t exist, really, and so living there in my mind is fruitless.
What are the business considerations here? The past, as I mentioned, is to be learned from, but doesn’t control me. A favorite quote by Ricardo Semler is, “No two things are as different as two of the same mistakes.” This speaks of refusing to make past successes OR failures drive my business today. I learn, I consider, but I do not let the past control my business decisions.
The future holds the same futility of concern and over-focus. Planning is a good thing, best practices are exactly that, but trying to control the future or somehow force it is fool’s effort. Polar vortex? Mid-East war? Sudden heart attack? Car dies? Top salesperson quits? Utter hard drive failure? Identity theft? Any of those in your plan?
Me neither. Give it up.
So what’s left? The reality of NOW. This moment. As human beings we are stuck in what some physicists have called “the arrow of time“. It goes one way, it is constantly moving, and leaves the past behind, cruising through each moment.
Live and work in this moment. It’s really the only one you have.