There Is No “Rewind” Button

Those Hollywood movies that involve the ability to go back or forward in time rarely catch my interest, to the point where I would be hard pressed to name one and say anything good about it. Whether it be a romantic comedy or a sci-fi thriller, I just cannot suspend my disbelief long enough to make it work in my head.

In the same way, if you ask me the proverbial “if you could do it all over again” question, you would probably have to push me pretty hard to get me to say anything besides “I wouldn’t change anything”.

When it comes to looking to the future, I must admit that I have a tendency to start to plan a few steps ahead of everyone else, and it drives my wife crazy. It isn’t always easy to “stay present”, but when you think about, that’s where everything happens.

The title of this post refers to an expression that I often use when talking to families about where they are, and how they got there. Some members have difficulty letting go of their feelings about past events, when someone else “wronged” them.

If we did have that Hollywood “Rewind” button, things would be so much simpler, right? You could just press the button and that stupid thing you said, that accident that you had, that decision that you made a bit too quickly, could all be erased, and you could go back and make things better.

I have not found that button anywhere, and I don’t think anyone outside of Hollywood has either.

One of the problems with dwelling on the past is that it often allows old feelings to stay with you well beyond the point where they are useful or helpful to you. This happens way too frequently with people in a family business, whether it is between siblings, or among members of different generations.

Let me address this issue of “useful” and “helpful” a bit more. If someone says something or does something that you don’t like, it is can be very helpful to remember it in the short term, because your immediate response and reaction should keep these recent events in mind, for your own good.

But twenty years after your sister said something off the cuff that was meant as a joke, you may want to cut her a bit of slack if she has otherwise not been mean to you. (If she could hit “rewind”, knowing how much it hurt you, she just might.)

Many years ago, Dad may have told someone that he did not think you had what it takes to follow in his footsteps, and maybe you weren’t even supposed to hear it. Letting that affect you and hold you back ten years later is not very helpful. If you have been making great progress, and even if he never complimented you on it, well, that just might be his style and his way of keeping you hungry.

Too many business families get “stuck” and have trouble moving forward because some family members are still dwelling on things that happened many years in the past. These people often tend to blame others for their misfortunes, and think about how “if only” something else had taken place, they would be much happier today.

There is no Rewind button. You can’t go back and change the past. Sorry, this ain’t Hollywood.

So what can you do? Today really is the first day of the rest of your life, and only you can make the rest of it better. If you can start to change your attitude, and focus on how you can help yourself TODAY, you can start to move in the right direction, day by day.

And please don’t start looking for the Fast-Forward button, because that doesn’t exist either.

(I will tackle the Fast Forward button in next week’s blog.)