Myth #2: History repeats itself

In my previous post, I put out my take on how innovation and discovery come from thinking out-of-the-box, and by thinking the impossible and going for it.

A key component to ensuring we’re keeping the right perspective is to make the past our friend, not our foe. We often make the mistake of thinking that the past is an indication of the future. We alter our actions, our thought processes and our communication based on past experience, so much so that it stifles our ability to keep an open mind for the future.

If you are going to a destination you’ve never been to before, how can you assume that you can use the same means to get there, or that you’re going to have the same experiences on your way there?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing off the value of experience and lessons learned from the past. I am merely suggesting that we shouldn’t be held hostage by our past experiences. My good friend, Kimberly Wiefling, wrote an excellent post early this year about escaping the grip of the past by shifting our focus to the future. I think it’s a good reminder to keep our thinking fresh. Learn from past mistakes, but don’t become crippled by them.

 Every time I hear the phrase ‘History repeats itself’ at the workplace’, I have to hope that better sense will prevail eventually. In fact, it is because we insist on following the same processes from the past that we repeat those same mistakes from the past.

Every new challenge is just that – NEW! It needs an altered perspective brought about by keeping an open mind about what works and what doesn’t. It also calls for continuous review and introspection of the current processes to ensure we can stay ahead of the curve. And last but not least, it takes a certain amount of humility to admit that nothing is perfect and that change is inevitable.

What are your thoughts on the matter? I’d love to hear ideas on how to propagate this sense of humility and creativity to know when and how much to alter course to get to a new destination.

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2 thoughts on “Myth #2: History repeats itself”

  1. Anuradha Subramanian

    Yes. There’s more to doing business than just delivering on customer requests. We tend to become creatures of habit. Blazing the trail is what it’s all about.

  2. Love this one. I believe there is a great deal to learn from history and that the best balance is to take the wisdom gained from our past experiences to inform our future decisions. We need to be wise in our application of past learnings and always be open to new (or even old ways applied in new ways) of doing things.

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