Go Forward, By Going Backward

In times of rapid, unplanned, or intense change, there’s a powerful but counterintuitive way to maximize your impact—go backward. What? Well, not technically backward but back.

Go back to your purpose. What is your personal purpose? Why do you think you were put on this planet? And what is your team/company’s purpose? In what way is the world a better place because your firm exists. If they are aligned, then they will serve to keep your ship safe in the storm just as the fore and aft anchors to for a sailboat. If you aren’t clear on either or both, then take the time as soon as you can to begin working through the question of your “why.”

Go back to your values. Values are the things and beliefs you deem most important in your life. They are the things and beliefs your company has determined to be vital to its way of doing business. These are like a heavy keel for a sailboat, keeping it from capsizing in high winds. Years ago I raced in a 27-foot sailboat and was very thankful when we heeled over that we had a 5000-pound keel to keep us from flipping. Can you name your personal values? Company values? Are they real to you or platitudes? Only real values that you live by, hire by, and fire by, will do in times of change.

It does no good to resist change or to complain about it. To thrive in it, to master it, to optimize it requires these “backward glances” to what you actually care about and use them to hold a course as you move forward.

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