Not everyone shares the same sanguine view of hindsight. Author Diane Halpern is downright contrarian and writes:
“Hindsight is of little value in the decision-making process. It distorts our memory for events that occurred at the time of the decision so that the actual consequence seems to have been a ‘foregone conclusion.’ Thus, it may be difficult to learn from our mistakes.”
This is the opposite of the 20-20 school of thought. What is your opinion? Have you observed hindsight mis-serving you or anyone else? Perhaps “selective memory” describes something less than perfect vision about the past?
If you wanted to have your memory be most useful by truly learning from your mistakes, how would you use it? What kinds of things would you focus on? What habits and ways of looking at and evaluating events would you put your attention on? How can you make hindsight and remembering the best it can be so that you can avoid or minimize old mistakes?
Wake-up calls can be perceived as opportunities because a choice not to do something is also a choice to do something else. Moments of focused choice often highlight the consequences of all the actions under consideration. We can become more awake and aware.
Samuel Johnson wrote, “To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.”
Have you ever thought of an opportunity as a wake-up call? What opportunities have you accepted and developed that felt momentous like you were literally being awakened? Can you think of opportunities lost where you did not awaken – and you later wished you had?
Would you characterize yourself as an “opportunist” in the positive sense of the word – as Johnson described – to be mindful of the “golden moment of opportunity”? Do you provide opportunities for others in ways that can feel like wake-up calls?
Consider a different relationship to wake-up calls than alerting you to potential difficulty. It’s possible to manifest wake-up calls that are inspiring and energy-giving.
Give yourself ten minutes with a kitchen timer. Come up with at least 20 different opportunities that you have in your life to move forward and evolve.
The use of the timer in conjunction with the target number of opportunities creates the feeling of “wake-up,” and the subject matter is enlivening and useful. “Waking up” to what you can have happen in your life is a kind of “self-induced” alert or focus.
What opportunities exist in your life to dramatically grow and evolve? What kind of regular practice can you create to connect with these opportunities? How do you like using exercises like this to expand your feeling of “waking up”?
Wake-up calls, of course, occur not just for individuals, but for every kind of human organization: families, teams, companies, institutions, governments – even countries and perhaps for the entire human population.
A wake-up call is a warning that something more dire could happen – like hearing your tires hit the raised bumps on the freeway edge when you go over the line.
Maybe you’re beginning to dose, but those bumps awake you – presumably to continue driving forward fully alert – or to pull over and rest – or take corrective action.
Are you a person who heeds those calls? Has your pattern been to ignore them or to pay close attention?
What do you have to learn from how you handle wake-up calls?
Wake-up calls are events which provide opportunities to make needed changes before it’s too late to make them.
Perhaps a smaller version of a hugely undesirable consequence occurs, and we have the potential advantage of dealing with a situation before more serious things happen.
What is your experience with wake-up calls? Can you think of times in your life when you were awakened and stimulated out of your day-to-day to take action that you might not have otherwise taken?
Wake-up calls often occur in the area of health because health-related events can often start out slowly and build. Similarly, financial and relational aspects of life can worsen if we have been paying insufficient attention to them.
Are there any wake-up calls that you are not now heeding? What would be required to listen and to make desirable changes? If you have been ignoring or resisting, why has that been the case?
What’s your potential? Are you living up to it? How do you know when you are or you aren’t? What can you do about it . . . either way? Do you use your potential only as a means of motivating you, or have you used it in the past as a way of punishing yourself when you’ve focused on not living up to it? Is your perception of your potential a moving target that has mirage-like qualities?
Potential means “the inherent capacity for coming into being.” Potential from an engineering perspective roughly means the capacity – or the ability – of a structure to bear a specific load.
For human beings, our potential is probably less a fixed number than a range of possibilities that can be impacted – positively or negatively – by a tremendous range of variables.
How much do you access or consult the idea of your potential with the intention of being motivated and inspired by it? Less pleasantly, how frequently have you consulted your potential – and the difference between where you are and where you could be – as a means of beating yourself up? What is the optimal relationship to potential?
What would the world be without poetry? Poets translate the world into infinite ways for us to experience it from the bittersweet, to the tragic, to the humorous. Poems were often sung in ancient times, and we are surrounded by song lyrics that often aspire to poetry.
Plato said, “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” This makes sense in that poetry at its best is an open window into the human condition. Whether or not you read poetry, if you sing along to songs, you are engaging in a form of human poetry that is as old as language.
How is poetry a part of your life? Do you remember song lyrics, and do you consider them poetry? Do you have a favorite poem, passage or line that speaks to you in some way?
I had the privilege last week of seeing the great poet and songwriter, Leonard Cohen, live in concert. He said many things that night, but among the most striking was, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s what lets the light in.”
Most of us have had issues with perfection. We live in a world where airbrushed models, celebrities, professional athletes and even business people are presented as glamorized role models and heroes because of their supposed perfection.
This week, as we explore perfection, let’s take some time to consider Cohen’s remark and look carefully to observe those facets of our lives that appear to be imperfect or “cracked,” but which, in fact, let the light in. We can revisit the state of “perfect imperfection” in which each human being continually lives as a dynamic and ever-changing work in progress.
Copyright 2009. E. B. Hutt Bush and Coaching for Results, Inc.