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Learn from the past, but work toward the future

by David Specht

Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from David Specht’s book, “Old Dogs, New Tricks, available on Amazon.

Recently, I sat down with my executive team to review the past month and look ahead to the fourth quarter of the year. While planning, we pulled out our reports from last year to dissect what could be expected and what gaps needed filling.

I thought of Simba the Lion…

There is a valuable business (and life) lesson that can be learned from the movie, “Disney’s: The Lion King.”
In the movie, the heir to the throne, Simba the lion, runs away from home because he believes he is the cause of his father’s death.

After many years, he runs into Rafiki, a wise baboon from his homeland who encourages him to go home and take his place as king.

“I can’t go back there after what I have done in my past,” Simba argued.

At that point, Rafiki smacks Simba in the head with a stick.

“Ouch! Why did you do that?” Simba asks.

“Doesn’t matter. It’s in the past,” Rafiki replies.

“But it hurts.”

“Yes, the past can hurt.”

The lesson to be learned is that while we should learn from things in our past, we need to realize that we cannot change those things.

We need to review past performance to learn what worked and what didn’t work.  But, we should not dwell on the failures (or successes) in the past.

Truly successful business leaders know that there is no such thing as a completed plan for success. The plan must be continually improved.

Henry Ford learned this lesson early on. After inventing the wildly successful Model T automobile, he ran into a major problem. He could not fill all the orders that were coming in. He was a victim of his own success.

Ford realized the problem was in the production of the Model T. Workers in the plant could only produce small number of vehicles per day. The method of production (a team of workers would build a Model T one at a time) was too inefficient.

Ford came up with the idea of running a conveyor through his plant and having his workers assemble only one part of the vehicle as it passed by. Efficiency went through the roof and the assembly line was born.

That was not the end of Ford’s challenges, but each time he came up with innovative solutions to the problems.

I hope you are looking forward to the future as one of tremendous business opportunity. Learn from the lessons of the past, without dwelling on them, and think of innovative solutions to the challenges your business will face. I believe when you look back on things down the road, you will be pleased with the outcome.

David Specht is editor and publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.

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