The Romans used to have wax tablets that they used for taking notes and such, and when they were done using it they would heat it up and literally “wipe the slate clean”. Known as tabula rasa, they provide an interesting image for a key tenet of Leadership Zen – self-forgiveness.
Most of us tend to make good decisions in the present. Where we tend to fall down is when we try to outthink the future (trust me, you can’t) or we spend too much time dwelling on decisions we made in the past. The possibility of future consequences and the fear of repeating past mistakes can be seriously paralyzing factors in creating that inner sense of possibility that leads to your personal vision. Fear can be crippling.
Trying to limit or at least be aware of the chess game we all sometimes play in our decision making requires it’s own set of strategies, but it can be harnessed into something very powerful if you work at it. Harder to overcome is letting go of what we’ve done and realizing it doesn’t necessarily apply to our future. Whether it is blatant regret or just concern of repeated consequences, we all have to remember three things when moving forward on a journey of personal change:
- Everybody makes mistakes
- Good leaders learn from them, and make the adjustments required to make similar choices have different results
- The past is not a very good predictor of future results anyway
We have to learn how to self-forgive, to recognize the errors in judgment that simple facts of circumstance that led to potentially unwanted outcomes in the past. As humans, we are given both the power of a strong mind and a limited amount of time in which to use it. Any amount of time spent dwelling on things that you have no control over anymore is a waste, and counterproductive to the progress you’re trying to make. Recognize the errors, adjust your approach, and move on. You will find not only that you will accomplish more, but freeing yourself from the burdens of fear and regret can be an equally powerful step all by itself.
Trust yourself in the present. Deal with the future. But forget the past as anything more than a distant memory.