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You Can't Drive into the Future If You're Looking into a Rear View Mirror
By Catherine DeVrye   Printer Friendly Version

With rapid change in today's world, too many people look back on the 'good old days', recalling less complicated times. Reminiscing can certainly be pleasant, but it's futile to long for a return to the past, rather than look forward to the future.

Even with turmoil in today's world, it's worth remembering that we should enjoy the present because in a few years, these times will become our 'good old days'.

The pace of change is unlikely to slow down. On the contrary, it's likely to accelerate faster than a vehicle on the Grand Prix circuit. Undoubtedly, these changes can cause stress, just as drivers of such racing cars experience stress themselves.

When the Grand Prix was held in Adelaide, Australia, physiologists conducted a study on stress levels of the drivers. Electrodes were attached to their hearts to ascertain when they experienced the highest stress levels. Was it when they risked their lives at 300 kilometers per hour, racing down the straight? Was it when they turned left or right? Was it if another driver was nearby? The researchers were surprised to find that none of these life-threatening conditions produced the most stress. In fact, the highest recorded levels of stress were when the drivers were safely at a pit stop. This initially seemed surprising but on analysis, made perfect sense because at that point in time, someone else had control over their vehicles!

How often do we feel 'in the pits' and under stress when we sense, rightly or wrongly that someone else has control over our lives; when we feel powerless ourselves, but to stand by and watch. And, often times, we may think we have no control, when in fact we have many more options for action than we may imagine.

As Henry Ford once said: "Whether you think you can or think you can't,
you're probably right."

It's important to never forget that, as individuals, we must take control of our lives. It's easy to forget this in times of rapid change. It's equally important to remember that many changes are for the better, not the worse. Yet, we seldom hear anyone lamenting those changes. Someone readily complains about a higher utility bill than 'what it used to be', but I've never heard anyone longing for the good old days, when we didn't even have electricity, gas or running water?

I recently spoke at an automotive conference and learned the astonishing fact that any car built since 1992 contains more sophisticated technology than the lunar spaceship that landed on the moon in 1969! And, that a single Pentium chip now has more computing power than what was available to NASA during the entire research and development phases of the space program.

Astronaut John Glen provided a wonderful example of not looking backwards, when in November 1998, at age 77, he again circled the globe as he had first done in 1962; only in a more sophisticated craft. When I mentioned these remarkable facts to a friend, she replied:

"Yes, it is amazing. We've put one man on the moon ... why can't we put them all there!"

I had to remind her that, even though she'd had a messy divorce, she hadn't always felt that way about her ex-husband, and it wouldn't do her any good to be bitter towards all men because, whether in our personal or professional life.


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