Going forward or living in the past?

I have often wondered what makes people’s lives and personality differ, and I always find this interesting.

I grew up as the youngest of 3 in a family with a mother that was a teacher and a father that worked as a gardener. Here I am as a father myself, many years after my own father has passed away, loving gardening, plants and multiplication of trees and shrubs. At the same time I love teaching, and creating room for dialogues and expression. Could it be that it has something to do with my upbringing? Oh, yes I think so. As a kid I was hanging around my dad, watching and doing what he was doing. I also loved learning information and had no problem with having my own mother working at the same school as where I went.

We take with us good things from our family and we learn from the environment we grow up in. We hopefully reflect upon them and take with us what we want in our own family and leave behind those things that are not something we want to continue with.

At the same time, we as parents, are key in shaping our children, telling them about their value and that they are valued. That they can accomplish and that they can do things by themselves.

I write this as a proud dad, seeing my first born going into diving and underwater rugby, and it all brings back memories of my own hopeless attempts to dive and to become a good swimmer. But he went further and achieved more then I did in this area, so well done son!

Not long ago I met a person that had had a troubled relationship with one of the parents. As they were telling me the story I understood that the parent had issues with control and wanted to control this person long into adulthood. Word had been spoken that did not bring life into the situation but rather the opposite. Claiming that the person was not fit for taking care of their own children and that the choice of partner in life was not good. All these words that had been spoken somehow managed to put down some roots.

Years after the parent had past away, we were having these conversations and to hear this person speaking about life and their own self was heart breaking. This person had more talent and resources than what I had seen in a long time, but still felt small, insignificant and not fulfilled because of all the rubbishness that had come from their upbringing and teenage years. It was time to deal with it, because we can not go on into our destiny and live life in freedom if we don’t look at ourselves with the right eyes.

I relate this back to teams and leadership, what kind of environment are you a part of? Saying this I am casting thoughts on my own organisation over the last few years. I really wanted to see new changes happing and to bring up an organisation that was building something significant on a national and regional plan after a model that we had done on a local plan.

Like Steve Jobs’ famous quote, We are going to put a dot in the universe.

What I did not take into consideration was that there was this handful of leaders resistant to change and eager to hold onto their own positions, and there was I thinking that change was needed to see further growth!

Too many times we are stuck in the past, and we are even afraid of dealing with it because it brings pain or we have become prideful and don’t want to loose face. It’s always the same end result, we stop growing, whether that is on a personal level or organisational, we always need to have good processes of reflecting on the good and the bad things we have gone through. For myself the last months have been interesting. I am normally a person that works well under stress and crisis, but suddenly I found myself in a situation that brought out more than what I could cope with. It was a small thing, no one was hurt and in the big picture it’s absolutely nothing, but it made me stop (even if I did not want to) and I had to do some deep reflection. I went through all the big and small crisis that I had dealt with over the last many years, and there and then I realised that I needed to go over some of it again and get it out of my system. Once it was done and I could move forward. It may well be, for some, depending on the case, that they may have to deal with things in layers, one layer at the time.

In some of the organisations I have worked with there is a constant hesitation to deal with the past. In order to go forward, it often has to do with personal interest and reputation, and that can be hurtful if we end up not meeting the expectations of the day. Other times it is to cover up for lack of integrity or even a loss of position.
The common thing I see that where there is stagnation, some want to move forward and come up with all kind of attempts, but are still stuck. Others seem to be hoping for a miracle that will never come, and remember I work in the miracle business.

Growth comes when we are able to deal with our past in a good way, where some things are amazing, some things are good, and yes some things are not that great. But when they are dealt with with respect and honour we can deal with everything because the basic values in every team should be love and trust, and when they are present, then hard things can be dealt with together as a team.

Back to myself, talking about the crisis I was facing and having to overcome it, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my dear wife, who gave of herself to some of the things that I needed help with just so that I would get my well-being back in place. Also my good colleagues are always there supporting and encouraging and listening when needed.

Let’s deal with what is not nice in our organisations and seek a future that is better and greater than the past. That requires leaders that dare to facilitate and deal with joy and pain in a way that makes winners of all.

Rune Sæther

Have your say