Looking Backward

The first time I traveled to Europe on my own, I learned a trick for finding my way back to my hotel-hostel-trainstation-vaporetto, etc. If I stopped periodically to turn around and look back from where I had just come, I was able to teach myself to recognize the particular intersection or landmark from the perspective that I would have upon returning. This seems like a no-brainer, but not only did it help me to navigate my way back through unfamiliar terrain, but it also became the seed of a lesson that has stayed with me: pausing to look backward as you’re going forward is a handy technique for keeping your bearings in new territory.

It occurs to me that this is a useful metaphor for the entrepreneurial journey. We are engaged in moving forward into areas that are new to us, and also, chances are, new to others as well. In all of our wayfinding, it can be easy to forget to look backward, not just to see where we’ve come from, but also to appreciate the view from this new perspective. And: in those moments when we wonder if we might be getting a bit lost? Well, it’s quite handy then as well.

As the year wraps up, I’m taking the time to do this: pause and look backward. And it reminds me of something else I read recently, apropos the arts: the Greek Muses were the daughters of the goddess Memory. So, as we seek inspiration, we can also look backwards, from whence we’ve come.

Which for me, today in a snowy Colorado literally means being able to turn and view some of my steps along the way.

Happy reviewing!

  • It occurs to me, picking up the thread from a few days ago, that looking back can “sometimes” help you with your perseverance. My particular affliction is being too impatient, so looking back can also give me the right perspective I need to see how far I’ve come.

    If you’re taking things one step (or baby step) at a time, you can be lulled into believing that you’re not making any progress. However, when you look back, “sometimes” you’ll discover just how far you’ve gotten. I say “sometimes” you’re pleasantly surprised to discover the steps have added up to a great distance, because they can also reveal that, in fact, you haven’t made much progress at all.

    I think in either case, you’re response should be the same, put your head back down and just quick working. You might be rejuvenated by realizing your success or be forced to renew your determination.

    For me, I’m proud of the lifestream I’ve been able to glob together this year. I’m slowly creating my own story, a story which I hope will inspire me to keep creating.

  • Amy Frazier

    I agree! Incremental change often goes unnoticed. It truly can be inspiring to see how far we’ve come, one baby step at a time. I also appreciated the way your comment picked up the thread of “location” (do we recognize “where” we are?) and added “distance” (do we appreciate how far we’ve come?).

    And: nice to hear you talk about creating your own story — the role of stories in our lives is a great interest of mine…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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