The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

What we wanted

The past is a source of strength as much as one of frustration.

How leaders use it, however, is their choice.

It is a source of frustration whenever the past leads to rumination. That is the effort to deal with the difference between whatever it is the leader wanted and what he finds himself confronted with today. It is a very slow way to learn as it uses feelings to trigger a going back and forth between fantasies, dreams, hopes, and reality. It costs energy while touching on and yet moving away from existing disappointments. It leaves the learning to chance. It keeps the disappointment alive.

It is a way of dealing with oneself in the present by moving into the past. It uses the present to judge the past.

To make the past a source of strength it needs to be integrated with the leader’s experience as a choice once made leading to success or failure. Humans do this by mourning the successes as well as the failures they experienced. The successes as they are gone. The failures as they are gone. The normal tendency however is to pull on the successes to keep them alive and to push away the failures to make them disappear. Satisfaction and disappointments are not taken as normal events in life. They are perceived as manmade, destiny, or fate, not as the imperfections they are. Satisfaction as well as disappointments are a combination of things that we appreciated and disliked, things we desired and dreaded, or things others reacted to well and less well. It’s just that we can see one of both, dissatisfaction or satisfaction, more than the other. Acknowledging that none exists without the other opens a window to using our past instead of being subject to it.

It’s also a way of dealing with oneself in the present by moving into the past. But it uses the past to enable us to be in the present.


Statue of an Indian looking toward city hall in Philadelphia

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