Times when looking back takes you further forward...

I start by giving kudos to Ashleigh Barty who consolidated her NTA No 1 position this weekend by winning the most prestigious Wimbledon Open Tennis Championship. When the young Australian quit tennis to take up ladies’ cricket in 2014, little would have expected a comeback that would make her multiple grand slam winner. Today we celebrate many multinational corporations that have turned around from near-death experiences by adopting some form of U-turn strategies; Apple, Marvel, Best Buy, and General Motors, to mention a few.

Many have argued whether or not experience is the best teacher. One cannot fault the saying of the wise suggesting that ‘he who cannot learn by others’ mistakes is stupid, and he who cannot learn by his own errors is a fool’. Neither should you assume that a deemed failure means a ‘no-go’ in that area for you. Otherwise, Thomas Edison would not have said that he did not fail 10,000 times before eventually succeeding in inventing the light bulb, but simply ‘found 10,000 ways that would not work’.

People who innovate and make change happen are never moved by past experiences of failures or challenges, but are moved by conviction. Otherwise, what business does an engineering company like the US-owned Caterpillar Inc have in clothing, shoes and financial products?! Caterpillar had become a household name for building and hardware trucks before the company ventured into other innovative ideas. Or what have mobile telephones got to do with Pepsi?

If you believe in the vision you have, it does not matter whether you have the experience, or whether others have failed in similar areas; your level of conviction will drive your pursuit of the vision. In other words, you will your way into the delivery of your vision. As the vision becomes more and more real to you, your physical senses align more and more with your spiritual senses and pursue change as if it is right there ahead of you. It is at that stage that your actions and conversations begin to reflect your vision, regardless of the obstacle; what you see is what you say…

In August 2013, the first ‘Black-American’ to be elected as Commander in Chief of the United States of America (USA), Ex-President Barack Obama, addressed a group of leaders and people across the world at the 50th anniversary of the ‘March on Washington’. Recalling the great quote, “I have a dream…” by Dr Martin Luther King Jr, 50 years earlier at that same spot, Obama said, “America has changed…”. Dr King had given a speech describing what he saw as the future of America; “I have a dream…”, King had said. Many took this dream as a prayer or prophecy of a great future for the USA, whilst others dismissed the statement as his wishes, desire or imagination of a great future for the USA; only the dreamer, Dr King, can confirm.

When the first set of disciples of Jesus, commonly known as the Apostles, received what was referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a number of their fellow Jews heard their prayers in ‘unknown languages’ and thought that they were either drunk or insane in some way. Peter, one of the Apostles, addressed the crowd and said, “These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…’” (Acts 2:15-17; NIV).
What Peter simply meant was that the experience being witnessed by the Apostles had been foretold. The question for you at this point is, ‘what has been foretold or revealed concerning you?’

Technology has certainly made life easier for us all; although some would argue to the contrary, claiming computers have taken over our work and our way of life. When Siri, Bixby or Alexa start to talk back at you for giving inappropriate instructions, you know it is time to reboot. Car navigators are not as blunt, even when you refuse the direction, they simply suggest that you make a ‘U-turn, where possible’ and realign yourself to the predetermined route. It does not matter how many times you go the wrong way, the car’s navigation voice repeats the broadcast, “make a U-turn, where possible”.

In the July-August 2000 edition of the Harvard Business Review, retired chairman and CEO of Harley-Davidson, Rich Teerlink, described how his ‘U-turn strategy’ had successfully delivered change and transformed the culture of the company, quoting his famous leadership speech:

“We need a revolution, and if I’m not going to lead it, You need to lead it.”

If you are ready for change, you must be prepared to make a U-turn when necessary. This is the starting point to address the choices you have made in the past and change the choices you will make in the future. In the accountancy profession, we use the phrase, ‘cutting your losses and moving on’. If you do not move forward, you will remain in the past. You forgive those who have hurt you and use the experiences to change who you surround yourself with. I said to my church recently,

“your race is your own and nobody else’s”

In the mid to late ‘90s when Nokia, a forestry company, moved into electronics and telecommunications, only a few would have expected such a U-turn to produce the major global mobile phone manufacturer, nor would many have expected a book-selling company, Virgin, to become an airline. The key to any successful U-turn is knowing where you are going – visioning – or in the case of a God-fearing Christian, listening, hearing, and pursuing God’s plan for your life, no matter how late in the day. After all, Saul’s U-turn to become Paul was much later in his life, yet he became one of the ‘most accomplished’ Apostles of his time.

In his fifties and with very little money, when Ray Kroc presented his vision to transform the California-based fast-food company, McDonald’s, even the McDonald brothers themselves, Richard and Maurice, did not see the vision, nor expect their little restaurant to become a global brand. Today, McDonald’s is the fourth largest employer in the world, with over 1.9 million employees. You need to tell yourself, ‘sometimes I need to look backwards to move forward!’

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.