“What’s Past is Prologue”

written by guest contributor: Greg Ptacek

It’s easy to get lost in the past, to get consumed by what has happened and lose focus on what is yet to come.  It’s a rabbit hole that, if you’re anything like me, you tend to dive down right before bed.  But why?  Why do we let the past have such a hold on us?  Why can’t we let it go?

If you’re in any sort of leadership position, it’s all too easy to take what others say to heart.  Making tough decisions is difficult and frequently gains you little to no friends.  Often, good leaders strive to avoid criticism, they try to play the middle man, the peace keeper.  If you’re an HR manager, that may be fine, but if you are a change agent, you need to remember the words of Aristotle:

“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” – Aristotle

Be something, be the change agent.  Weather the criticism in the moment and know that you chose to make a difference.

Remember, at some point you have to separate yourself from the past. “What’s past is prologue.” It’s a fantastically deep quote from everyone’s favorite bard, Billy Shakespeare.* Some may think, that’s pretty elementary, our past has an impact on current actions and events.  That’s correct but to truly dig into the quote we need to focus on the concept of a prologue.  A prologue is a side note at the beginning of the story.

I read a lot of books and can hardly remember the prologue when I’ve finished the story.  A prologue is a foot note in our story, so why do we let the past dominate our thoughts and current narrative?  We shouldn’t, instead we should treat the past as a prologue.

Like a wise warthog once said, “You got to put your behind in your past.”  So you, leaders who choose to be something, grab a slice of ‘hakuna matata’ and know that your stage is set. Don’t let your past control you, let your past be the springboard that vaults you into an unbelievable story!

   *My love for this quote is in no way an endorsement that murder is justifiable based on past events.  Don’t get it?  Click here for more information.


A special thanks to Greg for sharing his thoughts!


One thought on ““What’s Past is Prologue”

  1. The title of this blog is fantastic. I live near a small town in Nebraska and I wish they could read this post.
    The town lives as if it wants the good old days back. There is a plant that shutdown 9 years ago and people blame it for the difficulties with jobs in the town. There are empty store fronts in the down town area and if the plant would be used again then more people would be in town, which means more customers and more stores downtown.
    The town website looks old. There is not a comprehensive plan yet or other documentation regarding the future of the town and where it is headed.
    The town has many positive qualities. Every one who lives there loves the place. It is a great place to raise your kids. At the city council meeting, the police chief’s comment was that he had to make sure people clean up their fire crackers after July 4. It is pleasant little community. It is the kind of place where you can leave your car running while you step into the post office.
    However, there is this nagging feeling that many people in leadership (at least the ones with voice that I run into) believe that their best days are behind them. The commodity markets are bad but that is no way to rally the people to a solution. Indeed, you have to put your behind in your past!


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