To succeed in the future, we need to stop blaming the past

Some years ago, my adult daughter asked me for advice on whether she should undertake a university degree while she was still in the workforce. The degree would take four years and she was unclear whether to take the opportunity.

I told her if she didn’t do it, all it would mean is that in four years’ time, she would have no university degree. However, if she did do the course, four years would go by and she would have a university degree. So, she did it.

If my daughter hadn’t done the course, it’s likely she would have looked back with regret. One of the most common coping strategies we humans have is to blame our situation on past events or other people. This leads to the disease of “excuseitis”. Often in workplace conflicts, we find that one or both parties blame something else in their lives or the business for their behaviour.

This is all part of the law of cause and effect, which is dealt with eloquently in the book, The Courage to be Disliked, written by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga and based on the work of psychologist Alfred Adler.

I recommend to clients and, in fact, everybody who believes they are at the mercy of some past event to ask themselves whether they will blame future situations and behaviours on the events of today. This puts the emphasis on making good choices now to give us better outcomes in the future.

Metrics help us decide whether we need to change our actions or continue what we’re doing to maximise our chances of success. For example, when it comes to weight loss, if we keep a daily record of our exercise and food and drink intake, in a few weeks’ time, we will see the correlation between exercise, consumption and the resulting weight loss or gain.

It’s the same with business. Employers and managers need to design simple metrics that give them and their people insight into their actions so they can make better decisions and improve productivity.

By taking ownership of the decisions we make today, we stop the blame game and create the future we want for ourselves.

I help small business owners and professionals find a way forward. Email me at

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