How To Use Past Experiences To Shape Your Future (And My Personal Story)
One of the best ways to make stronger decisions for your future is by learning from your past. Rather than being a victim to your past, you can learn how to use past experiences to shape your future!
When I lead someone through Next-Level Life|, we spend several hours going over Core Impacts in their life to see how they got to where they are today.
Core Impacts are key events from your past that help you gain perspective on where you’re at and where you’re going.
Some examples are: moving as a kid, marriage, loss, accepting Christ, etc.
Not all Core Impacts are big and emotionally heavy, but they very well can be.
Typically, we find around 10 to 15 Core Impacts in each Next-Level Life. Of course, this depends on age and experience, too. Some people may have 10, others may have 18.
A Core Impact isn’t just a continuation of an event, it’s something that changed the direction of your life.
Here’s a 2-step exercise called the “Core Impact Identifier” to help you gain perspective on your past, so you can shape your future.
Step 1: Identify your Core Impacts
Think back as far as you possibly can and write down the Core Impacts in your life. You’re not doing this to re-live stuff or make monsters or victims out of people. It’s about understanding and gaining perspective.
Step 2: Assess the impacts
Once you’ve written down every Core Impact to date, write down the impacts OF the Core Impact in your life. How did it affect you?
Here’s an example from my life:
Discovering I wouldn’t make the Olympic team – I was shooting for the ’88 Olympics and sponsorships were not allowed. When I discovered that my family couldn’t afford it, I was devastated. Skiing in the Olympics was my biggest dream and goal. I was so angry that I stopped skiing. I started hanging out with an unsavory crowd. I convinced myself not to dream or shoot for anything big because I could get my heart broken. It impacted me by starting a decision-making process that messed me up for 10 years. I didn’t want to stick my neck out, hope or dream.
Thankfully, after 10 years, I realized what I was doing to myself by giving up on something I loved. I immediately booked a trip to the mountains, rented skis and raced. I’ve been doing that just about every year since. It’s a love of mine. It’s energizing.
Looking back on my response to the then-devastating news, I realized that I made a decision that didn’t just have to do with skiing. After that Core Impact, every time I went to make a big decision, I chose not to do anything I could get hurt over. By doing this, I began the process of running every major decision through the filter of “Is this going to let me down?” If so, I’m not going to do it.
I had to change my force-of-habit thinking.
When we make decisions based on habits of the past, we lose out on some of the great moments or greatest changes in our lives.
We do it because we don’t truly understand the perspective of our past. I didn’t have to look back and be mad or make monsters or victims.
I simply had to ask, “How did that impact me?” As I understood that, I realized I’d put a decision-making process in place that would affect me for 10 years.
That’s why I want you to do this.
Take time this week, schedule it, and review your Core Impacts.
What force-of-habit thinking is holding you back? If you want to dig deeper and gain perspective on your life and discover how to move past your Core Impacts and have a stronger life, click here: Next-Level Life.
As unmanly as it is to say, I actually like The Lion King. I know. I know. I can hear all of you saying, “But Chris, you’re so studly! How could you possibly?” So go ahead … tell me how studly I am………………(crickets).
I like it because it’s a great story, and it has some really classic scenes. One of the best is when the hyenas are gathered in a circle, and they keep chanting the great lion Mufasa’s name.
1st hyena: Mufasa!
2nd hyena: Ewwww. I hear that name and I shudder… Do it again.
1st hyena: MUFASAAAAAAAA!
That’s just good quality stuff right there. But my favorite part is when the lion cub Simba has run away from everyone because he thinks he is responsible for Mufasa’s death. Rafiki finds him in hiding and tells him that he needs to come home.
Adult Simba: I know what I have to do. But going back will mean facing my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.
[Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick]
Adult Simba: Ow! Jeez, what was that for?
Rafiki: It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past. [Laughs]
Adult Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.
Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or … learn from it.
[Swings his stick again at Simba who ducks out of the way]
Rafiki: Ha. You See? So what are you going to do?
Adult Simba: First, I’m gonna take your stick.
The truth is that the past does hurt. We’ve all made some serious mistakes that we’re not proud of. (If you haven’t, it’s coming. Sorry.) And because of it, we have a tendency to run from the future. That’s right, we will keep ourselves from doing something that God has ordained because we’ve made a mess of something before. We become afraid of how bad we might screw up again. But you need to know that the past is the past! That’s why they call it that! It’s over, gone, done and done! We need to move on and not allow our past failures to control our future. Every great leader has quotes on how much you must fail to succeed. If they know it, why don’t we?
And God doesn’t want to leave you there in the past and taunt you about it day after day. One of the greatest examples of someone who messed up, but God redeemed, is Paul. Paul was Saul, a guy who used to kill Christians. We believe that it was he who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen. And yet, God turned him into the greatest evangelist. You never read that God was there every day saying, “Hey, don’t forget you used to be a murderer. That’s really kind of bad in my book.” Instead, He used him to help me to know about my place in Heaven.
The next time you allow the mistakes of the past to ruin your day, stop and think about Paul and how some of his days went. It’ll change the way you feel. As a leader, you need to be keenly aware of where your people struggle in the area of making mistakes. If it’s from the past, you won’t get them to take many risks for the future.