It has long been said that “those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”
Many, if not most of us, have carved out a history filled with experiences that should we ever come into possession of a time machine, we would go back and radically alter.
While the identity of the original author of that statement remains shrouded in controversy, the truth of the message is eternal.
Sadly, time machines do not yet exist, and, as a friend once pointed out to me, “with my luck, if I ever found a time machine, I would probably discover that they stopped making parts for it the week before.”
We each have something even more valuable than that time machine. We have the capacity to drift back in time in our own minds. The benefit of that ability is to re-experience individual events from our past and extract lessons waiting to be learned.
History serves as the greatest teacher, but only for those who are willing to study.
You may have have heard the expression, sometimes attributed to Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting the results to be different.” While the origins of the quote are suspect, the sentiment is certainly true.
How often have you done just that? You have worked really hard to lose those 30 pounds that had crept up, only to regain them along with a bonus of an extra five.
You joined a gym. Spent two years pushing yourself into the greatest shape and condition of your life and then for some inexplicable reason, stop going to the gym, quit working out and in no time at all, two years of hard, dedicated effort evaporate leaving you as out of shape as you have been before you started.
You are striving to build your sales career. You hate making sales calls. A light goes on inside your head and you begin forcing yourself into the habit of making call after call after call and suddenly you find yourself busier than ever, closing sale after sale. And then, complacency kicks in, you stop making the calls and in no time at all you’re broke with few prospects.
Perhaps Einstein (or whomever) was right. If you can relate to any of the above then maybe you are mentally not all there. If that’s the case, you have membership in an enormous and ever-growing club.
Many of the events in our history are filled with pain, sorrow, desperation and anguish. Revisiting them and reliving them, in my opinion, serves absolutely no purpose. Many of these sorrowful events, however, contain rich nuggets of learning that frequently provide us with the ideal blueprint for creating lives of health, prosperity and joy.
Go Back, And Learn
All we need to do is study those lessons and adopt their teachings.
I recall a conversation with the boyfriend of a client who was facing a second charge of driving while impaired.
His previous brush with the law had cost him a lengthy driving suspension resulting in the loss of his job and yet, here he was, less than two years later, facing the same charges with, this time, the potential of far harsher penalties.
I clearly remember him explaining to me that, while he knew he was impaired and should not drive, he believed it was okay to do so as “statistically, the odds of getting caught a second time, are very low.” This is, of course, not only poor decision making but a poor understanding of how math works.
His history has provided him with a powerful lesson which sadly was one he chose not to learn.
As a Habits Coach, I work daily with clients whose history is filled with repeatedly doing the very things that bring results they don’t want. Perhaps the reason I am able to help almost all of them bring about massive change in their lives is because I spent many years ignoring the lessons my own history was yelling at me, while continuing to do, over and over again, the very things that filled my life with pain, frustration and despair.
My absolute favourite author, Richard Bach, in his magnificent book, “Illusions” said “We teach best what we most need to learn,” and, truth be known, it took a few years listening to my own voice as a coach guiding my clients, before I begun absorbing and practicing the many lessons my own history was attempting to teach me.
What is history trying to teach you?
I wish I could tell you that I have heeded them all, but that would be a lie.
And always telling the truth is one of the many lessons my history keeps telling me is not optional.
Want a great life? Become an avid student of your own history.
It will not only make you better, it will make you smarter.
Till we read again.