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Past Performance versus Present Desire

We hear the disclaimer “Prior results don’t guarantee future performance,” quite often, most usually in advertisements for law firms and investments companies. We suppose they don’t want anybody to get very excited that they had once settled a billion-dollar lawsuit or suggested that somebody buy shares of Apple back in 1980. But it’s a good thing to remember even for the average person.

 

Think of how often you do things almost automatically that a younger version of you had no or little knowledge or skill to do. Anything from scrambling an egg in the morning to not getting caught in a scramble in traffic on the way home from work. Or knowing how to write a report at work or when to work on a report at home that it doesn’t cause displeasure among others because you are bringing work home. Thousands of little things every day are accomplished with little or no thought on your part because past successes have ingrained the manner and means to successfully accomplish them. There may be times when you pick the exit lane off the highway or take too much family time for work related projects and prove the adage that, just like the super lawyer, your past success did not come with a guarantee.

 

Yes, those are minor examples but isn’t much of life made of small steps like those? Big things can go horribly wrong when the little things that add up to them are taken for granted. Just because you always had gotten the report in on time is not a good reason to not see the necessary data and material are properly collected and will be available when they are needed.

 

There is more to this life lesson. When we think prior results don’t guarantee performance, we automatically go to the past successes not guaranteeing future success. Perhaps even more importantly, we need to remind ourselves that prior setbacks don’t have to lead to further disappointments. When confronted with a difficult task that we had previously had less than absolute success with, it is far too easy to put off the project, decline the offer, or defer to someone else. But a past unsatisfactory result, or even a past abject failure, is no reason not to try again. It may be the best reason to try again, particularly if you had learned from that or other miscues.

 

We previously wrote about perseverance and said, “we will be told many times that we cannot do that. It’s up to us to decide how we will respond to the criticisms, to how others feel about us.” That is also true when we tell ourselves we cannot do something, and it is up to us to respond to our own criticisms. Re-read that post and anywhere you see “they” replace it with “you” and you can see how if there is anything your own past performance influences it is your present thinking.

 

Past performance is no guarantee to future results. Nothing is a guarantee to future results except your desire to do something and to do your best while doing it, and even that only guarantees results, not necessarily good or bad. Whether that is scrambling an egg or scrambling for the new promotion at work, whether to work at home or work at creating a new home, what is in the past is past. It cannot happen again. Good or bad past performance is no guarantee to anything. Present desire is.



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