If you go deep within your memories and experiences, can you say whether you’ve done more good than harm? I know I’ve had far more business failures than successes. More former friends than new friends. And sometimes I reminisce about the people I’ve hurt more than those that I’ve helped.
It’s in our nature to remember the bad, and to ruminate on the negative. It’s built into our DNA, as it’s a useful survival mechanism. In the past, it protected us from making the same mistakes over and over again. Like poking a rattlesnake with a stick, or aggravating a beehive.
But what if you think too much about the bad and don’t focus enough on your ability to do good? It’s a question I often ask myself.
I can’t forget about the client who sold his house to pay his bills, the employee who wanted me ousted, or the irate client who had a few unkind things to say. I’ve made mistakes. We shouldn’t have made that sale, I should have employed empathy, and I could have looked at things from the client’s perspective. “Could have, would have, and should have”….but the memory of those experiences live on.
What have I learned? We can’t change what we’ve done, or not done. We can only learn from those mistakes and try our best not to repeat them. Like now, I ask clients how much runway they have before we agree on a project, and I use empathy to relate with our team and clients, always trying to see things from their perspective.
And, I try to replace every negative thought with three or four positive thoughts. Because your past does not equal your future.