First a quote: “Holding onto resentment is like taking poison and waiting for another person to die.” – Bert Ghezzi, Author*
I have come to believe leadership is primarily about leading people, and organizations, forward into a more desirable future. Leaders have a vision of what a more positive future might look like. A future-forward vision does not have to be complicated nor grandiose. They should, however; draw people together towards a common purpose/goal. To be effective, visions are about a better future for all.
In workshops, I often describe vision as; “A person’s view of a more desirable set of circumstances, at some point in the future, described in visually descriptive ways.” Spend two minutes thinking about your area of responsibility right now. What would your business, function, or department look like if it were perfect? What about your relationships, family or communities; what would they look like if they were perfect? See, it is not difficult to imagine a better, more positive future. John Lennon was correct; “It is easy if you try.”
And yet, while leadership is, or at least should be, forward focused; how many people do you know who are still looking in their rearview mirrors at what is behind them? How many people do you know who are stuck in the past, still clinging to past hurts, wrongs, and injustices, completely consumed by resentment? Emotional resentment is a very strong poison. It not only attacks the head, heart and spirit of the individuals consumed by resentment, but also their relationships, families, companies and entire countries.
I see examples everywhere of people dragging around these metaphorical anchors, while at the same time, lugging huge reservoirs of collected baggage from their past. They seem unable to break free from the shackles tying them to their mental prisons.
Please know I am not in any way trying to dismiss, trivialize or minimize the significant injustices that have occurred, or are presently occurring, in this country or throughout the world. Certainly, there is value in history; there are many things to be gained by reflecting on past events including losses suffered, pains endured, lessons learned, wisdom gained, and memories cherished. As Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
What about you? Do you have small vials of resentment eating away, or destroying, your important relationships? Are there boxes of baggage from your past you are still pushing through life, slowing you down? What resentment might be destroying you from the inside out? What poison may be eating away at your future?
Maybe today is the day to stop staring into our collective rearview mirrors and turn our eyes to the future. Let’s all work to make this a world we can be proud of… just imagine!
Bonus Quotes Below.
How will you live and lead differently, or better, this week?
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“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
* Variations of this sentiment have been attributed to many famous people, but the original thought is believed to have been written by Bert Ghezzi.
“Nothing on earth consumes a man more quickly than the passion of resentment.” —Friedrich Nietzsche
“Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.” — Siddhartha Gautama Buddah
“Those who have hurt you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now unless you hold on to the pain through resentment.”- Rick Warren
“Nothing good can grow in the soil of resentment.”– Dr. Mardy
“Imagine all the people Living for today.” John Lennon