A few weeks ago, I was fixing my leaf blower in the garage when my four-year-old son, Evan, did something he wasn’t supposed to. As a parent, I tried my best to explain to him why what he did was wrong. Evan’s eyes became glossy, but no tears fell as he said, “sorry, dad.”
I turned around to finish what I was working on when I heard his voice again.
“Do you want to play policemen?”
What I loved about this is Evan didn’t ignore the fact that he did something wrong. He apologized, then moved on. Immediately.
Evan has a great memory, so I’m sure he remembers what he did wrong (I actually don’t), even if I was to ask him about it today. But what I came to appreciate, more so later on, was how his mind worked. Evan didn’t harbor bad feelings towards me because I scolded him. He doesn’t know how to hold on to bad feelings yet — at least I don’t think he does — so he just went back to being my best friend.
We can learn a lot from our children. Evan didn’t look back, but forward. His focus wasn’t on what just happened, it was what he wanted to do next.
In business and our personal life, what we do in the past helps build who we are. The experiences and actions, however, don’t have to dictate what you should become, nor hold you back from where you want to go.
There will be good things and there will be bad things. That’s the reality of life. But how we utilize those experiences, whether building off them or pushing them to the side in our mind, has the ability to be extremely profound.
Most people, myself included sometimes, have trouble moving on from bad experiences right away. This is despite the fact that we can’t change the past, only use what’s happened to change the future. We play what-if scenarios and try to justify the events to make ourselves come to terms with them. Neither of those change the outcome though — this is just part of being human.
We shouldn’t let our minds live in the past, the same minds that were once four-years-old and so forgiving. In business and at home, we all make mistakes and get burned. Letting thoughts linger hurt relationships. Find resolution, learn and the next time you find yourself in one of these situations, just think to yourself “do you want to play policemen?” Then, move on.
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