Act and React: Watch Me Predict What You’ll Do Next

An Explanation

Everything we do is a reaction to our previous experiences. When I wrote four long posts about social media, I turned around and wrote a short post about counterbalancing. Sometimes when we win an athletic contest we know how sweet victory tastes and we work hard to duplicate that. And other times when we have a great day at work, we tend to get lazy on the next, it’s hard to be our best every day.

We take into consideration our previous experiences and we move forward with a better understanding of what to do next. In other words; when we learn, we grow. If we never learned, we’ve never grow. The key part of that statement being, we must learn before we grow. 

A Quote

This requires us to consciously look at what we’re doing and asses what has just happened to us. Many of us have been known to keep our heads down and only look forward, but as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” You are reading my own reaction to the failure to be conscious of my experiences.

I used to do a weekly email to my team at the furniture company recounting the previous week and giving advice about the upcoming one. That wasn’t nearly enough for a growing company, but it was a start. I highly suggest some sort of documentation or timeline of events be written down for growing companies, it will help you remember where you’ve come from and how you got to where you are today. That sort of stuff is much harder to remember once it’s over and done with.

A Musical Case Study

I first heard this idea from the Foo Fighters’ front man Dave Grohl in an interview many years ago. He said that every album the Foo Fighters put out was a reaction to the previous one. This stuck with me because I was intrigued that rock stars took this much into consideration throughout the creative process.

He said one album was very rough & sounded like it had been recorded in a garage. They came back in the next album with a handful of acoustic songs to balance it out. The one after that only had 1 acoustic song because their live shows barely included those acoustic songs, it was mostly loud and fast.

Each album they created was made better in some way from their previous one(s). They learned from each album they recorded and reacted with a better one the next go-round.

An Application

The Foo Fighters example is simpler than most of our everyday work experiences, when an album is finished there are no changes that can be made. However, in our work lives it’s not as clear cut. We can’t always see when a project is finished or when something is ready to be shipped.

I like music too, Mike, what’s this got to do with business? Well it has everything to do with business, with competition, with what to expect out of our co-workers and employees, how to address and react to a crisis, the list goes on. When we are cognizant of our experiences and how our organizations intuitively react to things, we can predict what will happen next. 

This may help us to implement company policies or stop a problem before it starts. On a sports team, if we traditionally see our players get lazy after a win, we head that off as a coach by making the next week of practice intense and fun. If we see that the last time we attempted a company function people asked if they could bring spouses but we didn’t allow it, make room for the spouses this time.

It’s about being present and learning from all of our experiences, not just our mistakes, that make us good leaders. As we act and react, take time to look back on what’s happened so we can make better decisions about what to do next.

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Leave a comment below or chat with me on Twitter about your actions and reactions to past experiences.

Have a great weekend!

  • I like this. In public relations, we encourage the company to do an “environmental scan” of the world around it. Issues management is the practice of constantly being aware of that environment and all the issues that can affect the organization. When we’re aware, then we can prepare our action/reaction. Fewer surprises that way! And better preparation generally means better results, whatever we’re doing.

    • Exactly! Easier said than done, I know, but when we can create time to reflect like this it pays dividends.

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