Live Forward the Way You Look Back
Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
—Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard
Things Don’t Happen for a Reason
Things don’t happen for a reason, they just… happen. The cycle of life and death is hardwired into the universe. Our feeble, human attempts to change the inevitable by painting a layer of reason and emotion on top are at the same time laudable and laughable. As the Buddhists say, you are not special.
So, should you still create the conditions for success? Yes.
Should you physically, mentally and emotionally give it everything? Yes.
And how about recognizing that your efforts will yield good or bad results with plenty of learnings? Absolutely!
But, being too attached to those results? No. Leave the twins of destruction, Fear and Anxiety, behind.
Rarely Have We Been Completely Broken
We may spend endless emotion and energy before an event worried about outcomes only to recognize after it's done that we weren't actually broken by it. Rarely have we been, completely. By anything. Ever. Perhaps Mark Twain captured this scenario best when he said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
As time passes, we're able to acknowledge that the attachment to these events proved ineffectual. Besides being out of alignment with their inevitable course, the consequences of Fear or Anxiety came at a huge cost. On a personal level and maybe to our teams, our relationships and our loved ones, too.
Don’t Look Back In…
On reflection, some of our greatest “successes” may have led to unintended and undesirable consequences. Conversely, some of our greatest “failures” may have resulted in deeper understandings and a more definitive mindset.
Many of my greatest professional learnings have emanated from my most difficult challenges. A million-dollar company law suit. A corporate turnaround. Difficult clients.
My learnings and the personal impacts shifted over time. But most importantly, the emotion I attached to the event shifted. While I still tend to see those challenges as predetermined and as naturally-occurring as a rock, I am only now able experience my emotions in a similar vein—without meaning or impact other than that which I chose to ascribe to it.
A Mindset of Non-Attachment
How much different—how much better!—would your life look today if you knew that whatever happens in the future probably won’t break you?
What kind of internal peace would you experience if you knew that even the worst-of-the-worst would gift you with formative, positive and transformational learnings?
Can you imagine eliminating the Fear and Anxiety in your life?
Removing unnecessary stress and psychological dissonance gives us more:
Living of life
Space to relax and be comfortable in our choices
Confidence to embrace a winning mindset that stands the test of time
Clarity to focus only on what is essential
Non-attachment. It’s the mindset I continuously strive for in both good and bad times. It is a mindset that I’d ask you to consider and reflect upon, maybe even bring into your life.
Live forward the way you look back. It just may lead to a more purposeful and happier life.
Jamie Ramsden is a certified executive leadership coach and founder of Adastra Consulting (www.adastraleadership.com). A former Chief Executive, Jamie has been coaching C-Suite and Senior executives around the world for over fifteen years.