The seduction of going backwards...
Recently I had an opportunity come my way where almost instantly a very pithy saying popped into my head - "Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt".
The more I got into the situation, the more I could see myself sliding into the comforts of the past and the recognition of how easy it would be to get back into it. Everything on paper cried out that the fit was perfect, with all the reassurance and memories of your favourite childhood blanket!
I was sharing the situation over drinks with a good friend who finally looked at me and said, "You know they are trying to seduce you into going backwards."
She was being figurative of course, but the point she was trying to make was not lost on me. In the end, the opportunity (which I definitely would have been effective in, particularly with the challenges on the horizon) did not pan out... the reasons can be summed up eloquently with the famous phase "something went wrong".*
In all of this, I was reminded you cannot unlearn something and do it again, you cannot relive those perceived "glory days", you can't create something more than once and expect to call it "new", and you cannot go forward by moving backwards.
Opportunity, Satisfaction and Growth are not found in the romantic comforts of the past, but in the present and the immediate visions of the future:
- A world that has more "stuff" than it currently needs.
- The impact of climate change - hot where it used to be cold, dry where it used to be wet... with all the iterations in between.
- The impact of 3D printing on the manufacturing sector and how you will replace the "cup that just broke" (as a simple example).
- VR (virtual reality) impacting everything... travel, business infrastructure, education, entertainment, etc.
- Plastic... what are we going to do with all of it, particularly when it breaks down into problematic microparticles?
- Companies taking on the status of nation states.
- A growing population with real and perceived inequities.
- Brain Controlled Interface (BCI) - the union of man and machine.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics.
- The wrath of Mother Nature - Ebola, Zika virus, antibiotic resistant bacteria, etc.
- Drones and the redefinition of distribution.
All very real, and most will impact us to one degree or another (some faster than we would imagine if we use the Internet as an example). This is the world that will offer new challenges, new problems and NEW OPPORTUNITIES; always moving forward and never resting on the laurels of the past.
I understand that the seduction of going backwards can be tempting (be it comfort, familiarity, or ease through experience) but in the end, the past gets left behind.
Our paths are by no means simple or linear and the adage "one step backwards and two steps forward" rings very true but you need to ask yourself, "Is that backward step I just took moving me in the wrong direction, or is it all part of the plan to capture the opportunities of the future?"
Figuratively or literally, it is probably worth some consideration.
* The famous phase "something went wrong" came about with friends when someone asked why a certain situation ended the way it did. The answer, as you may guess, was "something went wrong". There was a strange amount of knowing laughter with the simple response... and yes, T-shirts are being made.