This disclaimer is usually tagged as a footnote to investment literature that touts how great a mutual fund’s returns and performance have been over the past year. I, however, am often called into situations where this quote plays a vital role in helping someone rebound from a period of underperforming below their elite talent level. It’s amazing to me how the past often haunts us as we dismiss the progress that we have made and selectively frame the pictures of poor performance.
For example, many of the golfers that I work with as a peak performance coach are haunted by the past. Past rounds, past holes, and past shots. They are seeking perfection, and when they do not hit the perfect shot, doubt often creeps in. If they are not careful, they begin a pattern of spiraling downward in performance allowing the past shot to dictate their future opportunities for success. In other words, a bad shot leads to a bad hole which leads to a bad round. This pattern can also happen to you in the roles you play in life. For example, how does a woman go from moments of incredible impact in the lives of her children to feeling that she is a horrible mother – just because of one imperfect moment?
The key to breaking through this vicious downward spiral is what I call “Recovery Time©” defined as your ability to respond and rebound from moments you did not expect to happen and move into the next moment. Others might refer to this quality as “grit” or “resiliency,” and we believe that it can be developed and improved. Using a golfer again as an example, I work with my athletes on thoughts, tools, and techniques that will help them play shot to shot, perform in the current moment, and respond when they miss shots they know they should have made. Part of this process involves developing “trigger/activating” phrases that help them to replace thoughts of fear and doubt with thoughts of trust and belief about them and their talent.
We must also learn from the past, not live in the past. The past must be an ally pushing us onward and forward, not an adversary rising up against us at every turn. Your past may not involve a missed 4-foot putt or a bad round of golf. Your past may include:
- Being laid off at work
- Feeling inadequate as a parent
- Feeling disconnected to your spouse
- Wondering if people even know you exist
- Being rejected over and over again
- Struggling to tap into your talent
- Striving to pursue purpose and meaning in your life
Whatever you are going through today, know that you can recover from miserable moments. It begins with realizing that “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Just because you have had a bad past doesn’t mean that you are destined to have a terrible future.
If we truly comprehend the meaning of this quote and conquer our doubts of past performance, we will learn to embrace the current moment with arms wide open. We will understand how opportunity and possibilities are waiting at the door if we will just relinquish the overwhelming memories of times where we did not perform at our best.
Strive today to “learn from the past, prepare for the future, and perform in the moment” (quote taken from my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most).
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