I was honored when Gaping Void blogger Hugh MacLeod posted my mini manifesto titled Don’t Look Back this week. It’s my personal mantra to avoid dwelling on past performance, mistakes and possible closet skeletons.
Here it is:
Horses have been training me for a long time. Directly and indirectly, my experiences with them have shaped my life. Thoughts on dwelling on the past follow.
Riding horses over jumps is life: fast, slow, up, down, control, recklessness. Thinking about jumping on horseback, I recall the words of a riding instructor about show jumping. He said, “When you hear the jump rail get clunked by your horse’s hoof, DON’T LOOK BACK! Keep both eyes forward and focus on the next jump; you can’t fix anything back there!
That definitive “clunk” of hoof on wood is paralyzing to the rider. It means one of two possible things have happened. The rail has only been ticked and the rider will escape faults on the round or the rail will fall from the standards penalizing the rider on his imperfect ride.
When clunks occur, the temptation to turn to see if the rail came down is addictive. Looking back blurs the rider’s focus on the next fence. An expert rider already has his eyes and attention on the next jump as he clears the rail directly under him. Timing is critical and focus is imperative.
Good timing and powerful concentration are universal success ingredients.
Competing on a horse in a jumping class is much like the way we all do our jobs or run our businesses. The jump class is a series of obstacles of different types over a mapped course. The horse and rider are a team that meets each challenge head on.
Your job is to be prepared to do the best you can on each jump in your day. Sometimes we tick knockdown or crash on the jumps in our way. The riding coach speaks the ultimate horse sense when he says, don’t look back.
Metaphorically, the next jump is coming quickly from the future to the present and the past jump is unchangeable history.
Focus on the next hurdle with all of your power of concentration. The time for analysis of what happened is later, when the round is over. Too often, we get hung up on what has happened instead of what is happening right now. We know that we can’t change history but that doesn’t stop us from dwelling on it.
I don’t suspect my horse has spent much of his day worrying about which jump rail he knocked down. He is only concerned with the matters at hand, that being the next jump or his next flake of hay. Horse sense comes easy only to horses.
Understand the importance of today, here and now. Focus and ready for progress. When thoughts meander back to “knocked rails” from previous experiences, the chance of losing focus heightens and history repeats.
Don’t Look Back.
No coincidence the blog is titled the same.