The author Spencer Johnson is most widely known for his book “Who Moved My Cheese’. However he also wrote another bestseller called “The Present” which is a wonderful parable account of three golden rules, namely:
1. Learn from the Past
2. Live in the Present
3. Plan for the Future
The essence of what Johnson refers to has so many applications to us all, both personally and professionally. Many might view these as way too simplistic relative to the mountains of literature on leadership and business management to be in some way relevant. But they are! Let’s view each in the context of an enterprise and assess how impactful they could be if applied appropriately.
Learn from the Past
In many respects this is another way to view innovation. It was Edison who said that in an effort to find one thing that works, he also discovered a thousand things that didn’t. He didn’t see this as failure but a tremendous learning opportunity. So too it is within organizations as insights are gained from trying new things, improvements are sought, boundaries are challenged, but all in the context of learning. However, this can only be effective when the fear of failure is removed.
Live in the Present
It is critical to any business that every day people show up and do their absolute best in service of all stakeholders. Lingering over the past or worrying about the future serves only to expend energy in the present at which point performance ultimately suffers. People must focus on what they can affect in the present moment and strive to excel based on what they have learned from the past.
Plan for the Future
The future is inevitable but uncertain. However by careful and smart planning you are preparing better to deal with whatever might be coming down the road. Leadership has the most prominent role in trying to envision what might lie ahead. One of the keys to this is by learning from the past based on what is being done today and relative to where you wish to be. Each of these insights feeds the other.
This pretty basic concept, when applied appropriately, creates a discipline that helps to manage your business and realize success.