A coaching client told me once that he spent the last three years trying to undo and repair the past of his team, a past that he was not even part of it.

That made me think of how often we get stuck in the past and somehow miss the present and the future. This is valid for both leaders and employees. It often happens because leaders try to compensate and accommodate the team for something that we don’t have control of any more or the team never managed to have a proper closure with past events.

Being stuck in the past as a leader can be detrimental to your team and your organisation. It can prevent you from being able to lead your team and make strategic decisions that will propel your organisation forward.

If we go back to the case of my client – he was feeling guilty for disturbance and conflict caused by someone else and was trying to cure wounds that turned into scars already.

Getting stuck in the past can remain unnoticed for a long and as another client shared with me – the danger is that while we are trying to heal from the past we still must go through the present and the future- and they both are not easy to sail through.

It can be difficult to recognise when you are stuck in the past, and even harder to break free and focus on the present and the future.

How to spot that you are stuck in the past?

Watch out for these signs:

  • You find yourself always dwelling on past mistakes or regrets.
  • You are unable to let go of past successes and see opportunities for growth and improvement.
  • You are resistant to change and new ideas, preferring to stick with what has worked well in the past.
  • You are unable to make strategic decisions because you are too focused on past events.

If you recognised any of these signs, it may be time to take a step back and reassess your leadership approach.

Here are 5 tips that will help you to focus on the present and the future

  1. Reflect on past events: Take some time to reflect on past events, both positive and negative. This will help you to gain a better understanding of what worked and what didn’t, and to identify patterns that may be holding you back. Look at them as learning opportunities.
  • Let go of past regrets: Holding on to past regrets can be harmful to your mental and emotional well-being. It’s important to learn from past mistakes, but it’s important to let go of regrets and move forward.
  • Embrace change: Change is scary, but it’s also necessary for growth and progress. Be brave and open to new ideas that can help you to see new opportunities and find new ways to achieve your goals. Start small. Try new things, break out of old patterns, and see things from a fresh perspective. This can be anything from taking a new class to reading a new book to delegating more.
  • Focus on the present: Instead of dwelling on the past, focus on the present. This will help you to stay grounded and to be more responsive to the needs of your team and your organisation.
  • Look to the future: While it’s important to learn from the past and to be present “in the moment”, it’s also important to look to the future. This will help you to spot new possibilities, and to make strategic decisions that will benefit your team and your organisation in the long term.

Bonus Tip – Seek professional help: Sometimes, it can be difficult to identify and overcome obstacles on your own. Reach out to a therapist or coach who can help you to identify patterns in your thinking and behaviour and develop strategies to overcome them.


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