Servant leadership: Looking backwards to measure progress
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
This quote from Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard highlights the importance of perspective in understanding the concept of progress in our lives. At any point in time, there are only two options: to look forward, or to look backward. Our culture has trained us to measure progress by looking forward. We set goals and strive towards ideals. We pursue happiness. Yet there is powerful tendency to quickly adapt to our current circumstances. After a positive development like a promotion at work or a new friendship, the emotional boost is generally short-lived. We quickly adapt to the "new normal". This leads to never being satisfied and to constantly seeking the next thing. Social media has accelerated this trend. The best way to measure progress is to look backward. Recognize and appreciate the road that you have traveled. Most of us don’t give ourselves enough credit for the challenges that we have faced and the accomplishments that we have achieved. Resist the tendency to take the past for granted. Measure progress from where we started to where we currently are. Recognizing how far we have come fills us with gratitude and puts us in a positive frame of mind. In a positive frame of mind, our performance is improved, and we can look forward with confidence and hope.