A New Year---A New Leadership Lesson

Posted by Duane Cummings on 01/02/2017

In 1999, I was a soccer coach at St. Gregory’s University and just before the holiday break, I sat down with my mentor Father Victor Roberts to discuss the upcoming New Year. Over the course of an hour, he eloquently gave me a lesson, that to this day is one of my guiding principles.

As we walked around the campus he said, “So, what have you learned over the past year?” For whatever reason, I began my list by dredging up all of the negative things that happened, including each and every one of the unflattering interactions I had with people over the last twelve months. 

He listened patiently and when I paused he said, “I know exactly what gift I’m going to give you for Christmas this year.” Knowing Father Victor well, I braced myself for the lesson that was about to come… 

“For the rest of your life, you should ONLY look backwards for two reasons---To learn lessons and positively memorialize people.“

I stood there for a second and then realized how petty and immature my words had been. He let a small knowing smile slip across his face “IF someone did something in the past that had a negative impact on you…rather than making it an emotional trip down memory lane, simply evaluate what happened and determine what the lesson is.“ He made it very easy to understand as he continued…

“You can’t do anything about the past except to learn from it.  So, always keep that in mind.  Just take the subjectivity out of everything in the past …when looking backwards simply use the lens of objectivity.”

It was so simple, and yet so profound. We continued walking, “For instance, that player you were talking about that didn’t perform well in the classroom and won’t be eligible for the upcoming year---don't get all bent out of shape. The lesson is simple…it’s your responsibility to help your players stay on the right path.”  That example helped drive the lesson home.

Recently I caught myself sitting with one of my mentees, sharing that same lesson. As I spoke, I could hear Father Victor in my head. I'll always be grateful for his gift and hope that the "looking backwards lesson" serves others as well as it has served me.  Wishing each of you #aSensationalLife and success by your own definition!



Yvonne A Jones Says:
January 2nd, 2017 at 6:47 pm
That is a timeless lesson, and your mentor was a very wise man, Duane. As I read your post it reminded of the saying I read some time ago, which I always keep in mind You cannot drive a car by looking through the rear view mirror. In reality, we cannot undo the past, but we can learn from the lessons.
Thank you for sharing the lessons you learned that we too can learn from.

Duane Cummings Says:
January 3rd, 2017 at 9:33 pm
Thanks so much for commenting Yvonne...great reminder about that rearview mirror! Wishing you an amazing 2017!

Christine Foster Says:
January 3rd, 2017 at 11:13 pm
Beautiful lesson and perfect timing for the New Year! Human nature is to look in the past. Those who thrive look forward and write down goals. Many of our lessons learned are in our goals!
Thank you for sharing!
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Duane Cummings