January 2013 Featured Contributor
by Bob Mason
I was at a dinner recently with a group of people on the verge of college graduation. It was way too quiet, and I didn’t know anyone at the table so I took it upon myself to get the conversation started. I suggested introductions then used the time-honored, yet somewhat lame question, “what are your plans?”
I was lucky and it worked this time as everyone began discussing their plans for the future; a dream job, advanced degrees, and even some entrepreneurial spirit. They each seemed enthusiastic but there was a common thread to what they said. They were going to have to start at the bottom again.
The natural cycle of ups and downs is one of life’s cruel ironies.
We start at the bottom and claw our way to the top only to start at the bottom again if we want to continue moving forward. We complete grade school and move on to high school, an overnight transition from oldest to youngest. Surviving that, we become high school seniors, on top of the world. Though short lived, high school graduation is one of the most euphoric times in a young person’s life. But then, in the blink of an eye, we’re on the bottom again, either as a college freshman, or a new employee. Once again, we must struggle to work our way to the top.
To achieve great success we must be willing to risk new adventures but we also must be willing to let go of the past, and the comfort it provides. That’s not to say the past isn’t important. It provides the foundation for the future, but we can’t be successful if we insist on living there.
Of course, there are a few people who don’t experience this up and down phenomenon as much as the rest. Those are the people who give up or just don’t try; who somewhere along the line decide success is just not within their grasp. They exist in the middle, never suffering the lows of starting over but also never experiencing the highs of great success. Not willing to let go of the past and risk something new, they never experience the feeling of success that comes from accepting a challenge and moving ahead.
We each have a choice. We can live in the past or accept the challenge of the future. Living in the past is safe. There’s little risk and some level of comfort. But, the challenge of the future is to learn from, but move beyond the past. It’s a risk, but the rewards are great!
Bob Mason is a speaker, trainer, and author of “Bridging the Generations: A Leader’s Guide to the Complex Multi-Generational, 21st Century Workplace” and “Planning to Excel: Strategic Planning That Works.” Bob works with organizations that want to excel by training managers to lead and creating great strategic plans to keep leaders focused. Visit Bob’s Blog and learn more about his philosophy for developing leaders who excel.