“Only a fool allows nostalgia to define their future!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Nostalgia rarely knows success – you won’t define your path for tomorrow by trying to trade in on the past glories of yesterday.
In fact, that very success might be the barrier that holds you back from your next achievement. That’s because, all too often, people think that what has worked for them in the past will continue working for them in the future. In fact, the opposite is the most likely reality. All we know about tomorrow is that it will be dramatically different from today, and perhaps even unrecognizable. So too should your strategy, plans, and actions for the unreality that it will bring your way.
In my list of 10 Great Ideas, I refer to nostalgia this way.
Change your focus. Old glories and corporate nostalgia won’t define future success — aggressiveness and adaptability will.
Stop thinking about the past, and focus firmly on the future. Ask yourself these questions: do you actually know what major trends will affect your industry, profession, and career in the next five years? Could you define the biggest threat to your company or career five years out? What career skills you will need at that time?
The most important trait that you can work on developing through the next year is becoming more forward-oriented so that you can spot the trends, opportunities, and challenges that will define your future.
Clearly, to survive and thrive tomorrow, you’ve got to align with everything that tomorrow might bring. You certainly won’t do that with a firm focus on what worked for you yesterday! The only place where such thinking might work is for nostalgia-based marketing and entertainment, where brands and franchises find they can discover new life by resurrecting old ideas.
As Charles Kettering, an inveterate inventor noted, “you can’t have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time.” I take on the topic of nostalgia on stage frequently, challenging leadership teams to refuse the allure of looking back as part of their strategic planning.
It is not what we’ve done in the past – it’s not our past success – that defines our future.
It’s what we do next!