Hindsight can be a wonderful thing can't it?
In hindsight I should have left that relationship sooner.
In hindsight I should have left that company sooner.
In hindsight I should have put myself first sooner.
In hindsight I should have got help sooner.
In hindsight I shouldn't have spent so much whilst I was away.
In hindsight I shouldn't have reacted the way I did.
The trouble with hindsight though, is that it always comes after the event or situation and not before, so we need to have had whatever it was that happened, happen, before we can learn from it and ensure we don't do the same thing again.
And so we come to insight. The opportunities for high leverage. Getting the help, working with coach, knowing what we want to do differently next time, knowing what we'll change and how we'll change it. And I believe all of us have the answers we need, sometimes we just some help in framing and creating the best way forward.
And from here, we create insight, or trends with traction.
If I take this step, this is likely to be the outcome based on what I know happened last time. So I want to avoid X, and do A instead as this will provide me with the best results.
And sometimes, if we find ourselves in the exact same situation, it's down then to choice. Choice not to make the changes that will drive the best outcomes. Choice to keep doing the same thing over and over again because it's what you know and where you're comfortable, even if it is painful.
From my experience, hindsight is only helpful if we are prepared to do something about it. To use insight to create high leverage opportunities and to use the opportunities to give us foresight. And this isn't always easy, in fact it can be bloody hard work. Stepping out of your comfort zone and seeing what's on the other side. Not knowing what might happen can be terrifying and sometimes paralysing. But it's often the first step that is the hardest.
When I joined the company where I became HRD, I knew on my first day that this company wasn't for me. But you have give things time right? Plus, I love a challenge. The role had been sold to me as a challenge and they were not kidding. I was up for it. Every great HR pro loves a challenge after all.
Three years later I was burnt out. And with hindsight, not because of anything I'd particularly done wrong, and not because I wasn't coping, but because the environment was toxic. The Exec Team were toxic. The coaches we were given were toxic. The conversations were toxic. The meetings were toxic and so too was the work.
I'd keep going, kept staying true to my values, kept trying to make a difference, kept trying to be me, and day be day it got harder and harder to stay.
The coach that my CEO finally agreed to, helped me see that I wasn't the problem. Sure, I couldn't have handled a few things differently, but I alone could not drive the change that needed to be driven and without the support and acknowledgement of the Exec team that they were part of the problem, I was never going to get anywhere. And so my coach didn't help me stay. She helped me see what was possible, what was important to me and how I could work in a way that would give me joy and purpose and work in line with my values.
As part of my coaching supervision recently we had a discussion about people who stay in roles vs people that leave, and we both found that as a result of coaching, more people leave than stay.
That's not always down to the wrong environment. Mostly it's due to acknowledging that you've outgrown the role and need something different, something to stretch you, something that makes you happy.
But many do stay. Many stay because they get clear on what's important, on who they are, on what they want to achieve and how they can find balance, and fall back in love again with their role.
It all comes down to choice though. The choice to stay or the choice to grow. The choice to survive or to thrive. The choice to be aligned with what matters, or not be.
Hindsight is wonderful when it helps us make the right choices. And sometimes, in fact most of the time, what's right isn't very often easy.
Hindsight = Your history
Insight = High leverage opportunities
Foresight = Trends with traction
How can hindsight become foresight for you?
Kelly is Founder of The Chrysalis Crew and a Global Empowerment Coach for Leaders and HR Professionals at kellyswingler.com. She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can change the world of work.