How To Overcome A Negative Past

Dec 22, 2017 1 Min Read

An unresolved past grows heavier with the passage of time. Little mistakes grow larger. Offence gets heavier. Failures persecute.

The past crushes those who hang on to it.

The older you get, the more you see what you could have done, but didn’t.

Let go of the past every morning. Don’t worry, its bony finger will return tomorrow.

Own it

One way to release a negative past is to own it. When you think of your failure, say, “Yes, I did that.”

Everyone who buries the past uncovers it in the future.

Whiners imagine the past can change. All who feel sorry for themselves are controlled by the past.

Don’t react against your negative past. Release it by owning it.

ALSO BY DAN ROCKWELL: How To Be Assertive, Without Being Pushy

The negative past of others

The way to get the best from people is to treat them with their potential, not their failure, in mind.

Every morning, let go of their past.

  1. Give second chances if they have passion to grow.
  2. Acknowledge successes without reminders of failure. It’s difficult to lift people higher by beating them down. “You did great this time,” is an insult in disguise.
  3. Design all feedback as a forward-facing experience. Establish simple, actionable, observable behaviours.
  4. Focus on progress more than failure.
  5. Maximise their passion. Maybe they don’t want to go where you want them to.

Repeated failure

Everyone doesn’t do everything well. Successful leaders bring out everyone’s best and minimise their worst.

Repeated failure is a leadership issue. You want to blame them, but you allow it to continue.

Realign, retrain, or reassign. Replace, if necessary, when progress falls below expectation. But, always act with their best interest in mind.

Everyone has a past. What you do with it impacts your future.

How might leaders deal with the negative past of others?

How might leaders get the most from a negative past?


Dan Rockwell is a coach, speaker and is freakishly interested in leadership. He is an author of a world-renowned leadership blog, Leadership Freak. To get in touch with Dan, write to us at


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