Wait, did I really write that title? My #2 strength is futuristic (looking ahead) and context (viewing history as helpful for learning) is at the bottom of my list at #33. I also have activator as #1, which means I am all about forward movement. So, this topic must be uber-important for me to write about it.
Looking back builds confidence, reduces stress, increases our faith and improves decision-making.
A valiant leader walks forward into tough battles after ascertaining the danger. (Bravery would be plunging ahead without thinking of the risks first.) We build valiance through experience, but only if we continue to push outside our comfort zone and take on tasks that are tough, especially ones we aren’t sure we can do. That enables us to look back on our experience and have greater confidence that we will succeed as we take on future challenges. And even if you fail, at least you learned something that you can look back on and apply in the future.
For us believers, we can usually see Christ’s hand in our victories, which can be major accomplishments or simply surviving an ordeal that many can’t imagine enduring. Just as Moses and Joshua spoke of God’s hand in the Israelites’ journey, we too can remember and rejoice in His faithfulness. This simple step increases our faith in knowing what we can’t see, because we now know what we couldn’t see before. As I am currently reading through the Old Testament, I am astounded at how much time is spent recalling and detailing stories of how God provided and led his people. In fact, He tells us to do so.
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way.”
– Deuteronomy 8:2
One thing I rejoice about with aging is having more history and numerous stories of God blessing and leading me to victory. It is important for me to slow down and reflect, as it ensures I take time to follow His lead instead of launching out on my own.
Patrick, who has context for his #1 strength, has really shown me how to use context to reduce my stress. This is natural for him because it is a dominant strength, but I often need a reminder. On the bigger issues, my faith kicks in to recall my past, but with the little stuff that stresses me out, it isn’t even on my radar. Packing for vacation, for example, can cause me some anxiety. This perplexes Patrick, as he said, “Don’t you recall packing for the last trip went fine and we didn’t forget anything we couldn’t live without?” “Oh yeah,” I mumble, a little irritated that he is right again, but also feel the tension leaving my muscles. Looking back on the little things can also take away stress as we realize it will be ok – we’ve done it before. If you don’t have a high context spouse, however, you might need to devise a memory system to look back.
Finally, looking back enables us to make wiser choices because we can learn from mistakes we, or others, have made. While this may take a little time, examining the past is critical for decisions that are not easily reversed or are high risk and high investment of time and money. Reflection is also important when the path we choose might impact our credibility.
A note to those of us who prefer to move quickly:
Looking back may feel like we just shifted into reverse (ouch!). We need to ascertain the cost of not taking this time, because it may end up costing more money and time to fix mistake in the long run. This is usually the case with people-leadership issues. Having a diverse-minded team, that intentionally uses its strengths, will help you properly balance speed and caution.
I challenge you to plan something in the upcoming month that is outside your comfort zone, so that you have even more confidence the next time you look back!