Andy Warhol stated that everyone will experience at least 15 minutes of fame. The scope and reach of that fame might be different, but everyone will be in the limelight at least once in their lives.
The problem occurs when we cling tightly to our previous “moment in the sun” – and forget that yesterday is NOT today.
Couple this human tendency to dwell on our previous “glory days” with the enormous amount of information available to us and you have a society in which people’s focus is constantly being redirected to whatever is new or “trending.”
According to one blogger,
“one bit of information leads to five facts, which leads to three articles, which leads to an interesting interview you must listen to right now, which leads to 10 pages in your browser.”
Whew – no wonder we feel overwhelmed by the information overload in our lives! And no wonder many of us don’t even remember a lot of what we see, read, or even do.
The old cliché of “time marches on” has never been more apparent than today. Instead of marching, time seems to be running a never-ending sprint, constantly moving faster as we leave things behind.
So, even though we may remember the exact details of our past victories and successes, others will generally remember (at the most) just the highlights of our successes – and vice versa.
We have become a society that forgets.
While this might be depressing to some, I believe that this creates an opportunity for us to continuously re-invent ourselves. Instead of resting on our past laurels, we are presented with unlimited possibilities to create something new in our lives.
Dwelling in the “glory days” of our past prevents us from moving forward. As we learn more, grow more, and experience more, the types of successes that we can create ultimately expand well beyond what we were capable of in the past.
If we’re dwelling in the past, we can’t be fully present in the now.
Artists and musicians have always been aware of this fact. The curse of the “one hit wonder” is something that successful artists often use to fuel their creative drive so that they will be the ones who beat the curse and have a lasting body of work.
Why don’t more people in business embrace this perspective? Is business really so different from the arts?
Throughout my years in business and working with clients, I have found that it is all too easy to get “stuck” in one’s past triumphs. Change resistance is rampant. Just like the old joke about the size of the fish that keeps growing when compared with others, many business successes are glorified – even though important details and preliminary sequences are lost in the re-telling.
For example, I knew a financial planner who boasted that he held the record for the highest one day sale in the company’s history. Pretty impressive. However, he conveniently omitted that he had worked on closing that sale for a solid year before the deal was signed. He didn’t do it one day.
And he never again met (let alone exceeded) that triumph.
By looking at each day as a new opportunity to grow and learn, we can appreciate our past successes as the fuel that helps us move forward to something even better. It might not exceed the previous dollar amount or be completed as fast or even achieve the same level of notoriety and awe. But it can be something new that we have never before achieved – and that is personal growth and success.
Due to the revolving door found in many corporations, our professional lives are really comprised of a series of gigs that create not only our careers, but also our professional legacies. Gone are the days when we are hired right out of college, receive consistent promotions, a corner office, and a fully funded pension when we retire.
Just like the actor will play many different roles in many different venues, we, too, will have different jobs with different employers that are often in different industries. And, just like the actor, we will have both triumphs and failures.
But the successful move forward and move on.
What about you? Are you dwelling in your past successes – or looking forward to how you can excel based on what you have learned and who you are right now? After all, to others, you are only as good as your last gig.
Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning company focused on techniques to eliminate the 5 workplace stressors that create and sustain burnout: Job Change, Organizational Change, Work-Life Imbalance, Poor Leadership and Management, and Ineffective Human Resources. An entrepreneur for over 25 years, author, blogger, career coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action,” watch her TEDx Talk on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFkI69zJzLI. To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com.