The Power of Now

I think we underestimate the power of now, and I think we waste too much emotional energy on the past and future.

We use the past to create self-inflicted paralysis, to rationalize inaction. We dissect our failures to avoid future missteps, and push progress into the future. We make no progress in the now. This is wrong on so many levels.

In all written history there has never been a mistake-free endeavor. Never. Failure is part of it. Always. And learning from past failures is limited because the situation is different now: the players are different, the technology is different, the market is different, and the problems are different. We will make new mistakes, unpredictable mistakes. Grounding ourselves in the past can only prepare us for the previous war, not the next one.

Like with the past, we use the future’s uncertainty to rationalize inaction, and push action into the future. The future has not happened yet so by definition it’s uncertain. Get used to it. Embrace it. I’m all for planning, but I’m a bigger fan of doing, even at the expense of being wrong. Our first course heading is wrong, but that doesn’t mean the ship doesn’t sail. The ship sales and we routinely checks the heading, regularly consults the maps, and constantly monitors the weather. Living in the now, it’s always the opportunity for a course change, a decision, or an action.

The past is built on old thinking, and it’s unchangeable – let it go. Spend more emotional energy on the now. The future is unpredictable an uncontrollable, and it’s a result of decisions made in the now – let it go. Spend more energy on the now.

It’s tough to appreciate the power of now, and maybe tougher to describe, but I’ll take a crack at it. When we appreciate the power of now we have a bias for action; we let go of the past; we speculate on the future and make decisions with less than perfect information; and we constantly evaluate our course heading.

Give it a try. Now.

4 Responses to “The Power of Now”

  • Mike…Your comments are really note-worthy. The expression(s) you used…”We use the past to create self-inflicted paralysis”, and the same result with the future’s uncertainty, illuminate a problem that exists everywhere I look in the design and manufacturing businesses. Making mistakes is part of the natural order of progression. It’s sad to think that making mistakes could result in doing nothing. Yet it happens. So I think today I’ll go out and make a big mistake and celebrate it. It’s my favorite way to learn new things.

  • Mike:

    Thank you, Dave. Comments like this keep me writing.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Micah Haines:

    Great post! Fail fast, fail forward.

  • Stephen Bradshaw:

    Yeah how to curtail the accounts running/over running a business when the new buss word is “Standardization”, which can kill creativity?

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Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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