Don’t Ignore the Past

We have explicit memory for a reason. Where most animals only have implicit memory for motor skills, human beings have a declarative memory that helps us record autobiographical, semantic and episodic information. We can remember how to do more than just walk and eat. We developed these skills to gain a competitive advantage against other species and humans who could not share our memories and experiences past. Simply put: “I learned things through experience that you do not know and that makes me better than you.” In a gnarly world of job applications and qualifications, “experience” means everything.

Experience does not end in employment land. Street smarts come from street experiences. Book smarts come from book experiences. We consume life and literature everyday, and much of what we consume gets logged in our brains.

Individuals often resist dwelling or revisiting bad experiences or periods of shame. They block episodes from memory, drink them away or refuse to share them with others. That’s a waste. While I understand that mistakes are not necessarily glamorous things to share with the public, you have an opportunity to help close friends and family learn from your mistakes. You can contribute to a collective memory and help the species last. We have memories for a reason – do not waste them. And do not let them die with you. Do not run from the past; embrace it as a gift. Any memory, good or bad, makes you the character that you are and gives you a competitive advantage in some way. Learn to stop hiding and love the past.

Why Stress If It’s Not Your Fault?

Perhaps harsh survival advice, but It is not worth hurting yourself over the failure of others. If someone else makes a mistake, why give yourself a heart attack? It is not your fault, so do not pretend like it. And it’s not your responsibility to clean up another person’s mess, whether you know how to or not. So relax; offer a helping hand, and take comfort in the knowledge that you are doing everything that you can to help. Do not stress.

If his or her failure effects you or makes your job harder, it does not resolve the issue to get upset. Anger, frustration, yelling, pouting, and blaming do not smooth things out at all. Stress is almost as unhealthy and contagious as the flu. Your stress will snowball into other people’s stress, which will only come back to hurt you more and make the situation worse. Objectify the problem, take new obstacles at face value, forgive the mistake, and move forward. Do not stress.

If the mistake was made under your leadership, then it is your responsibility. That is one of the risks of leadership, and you need to be prepared to handle the failures of your staff. That said, it is also your responsibility to facilitate recovery from said mistakes. Losing your cool will lose you the upper ground over your problems. Stay focused, think through the situation objectively, realign resources as needed, and act. Decision making is math, not drama. Do not stress.