Leadership in a word: Yesterday

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay, oh I believe in yesterday.” - John Lennon


In his book, “No Limits,” John Maxwell presents a most thought-provoking question that is worth some consideration. He asks: “When was the last time you said goodbye to something that was special that no longer works today?” It is a truly intriguing question.

Perhaps in our more nostalgic moments, we look back with some degree of fondness and recall a particular time in our leadership journey that was important to us. Maybe it was a particular success or a big win that propelled you to where you are today.

But if we are not careful, we can get stuck in a place, time, and mindset that no longer serves us or the people around us very well. We become stagnant and are looking backward to the “good old days” rather than to the future. Sound familiar?

Maxwell continues by asking, “Are you willing to let go of some things you love? If not, you’re going to have a hard time being creative and becoming any better than you are today.” Now, that truly is thought-provoking indeed.

Obviously, reading this caused me to think about my own practices, routines, and my mindset. Have I been guilty of this? Am I guilty of this? In what ways is this mindset hurting me?

My reflections led me to these conclusions. Perhaps you will relate. Perhaps you could add to the list. But here are just a few of my observations.


Creativity is the life-blood in leadership. The creativity I had 30 years ago when I was first starting my leadership journey may have served me well then, but it has no bearing on the creativity I need to succeed today. The landscape today is much different.

Leadership checkup: Are you availing yourself of every opportunity to grow and learn new things?


Leadership and management styles have drastically changed over the past few decades. The flow charts of top-down, bottom-up have mostly been replaced by more lateral lines with collaboration as the approach of choice by many.

Richard Branson observed: “People often remark to me that it’s great how Virgin thinks outside the box. They are genuinely surprised when I tell them, “Actually we don’t! We just never let the box get built in the first place.’”

Leadership checkup: Are you relying on yesterday’s structures to guide you today or are you finding new approaches to new problems?

YESTERDAY’S ATTITUDE WILL NOT EQUIP ME The attitude, faith, and mindset I needed all those years ago may have been sufficient at the time, but no longer. Not because I have arrived, but because my goals, dreams, and aspirations of today demand it. Going to a higher level of achievement requires an exchange. And it will be required in your leadership as well. The exchange will be to give up some things from the past that you loved in order to have the growth and success you desire today.

Leadership checkup: What attitudes and mindsets of the past do you need to let go? Are you still surrounded with people whose mindsets are holding you back?


“It’s no use going back to yesterday, I was a different person then.” - Lewis Carroll

“What worked yesterday doesn’t always work today.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

“...But this one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” - Philippians 4:13

“You can’t have a better tomorrow if you’re thinking about yesterday.” - Charles Kettering

“Yesterday was not your defining moment. The calendar moved forward; why not you?” - Steve Maraboli


We gain wisdom, understanding, and perspective from our past. For better or for worse, our past shapes us. While it’s certainly appropriate to reflect on the good things in our past, we must live in the moment and be forward in our thinking. It’s also time to let go of the past with all of its mistakes and failures and seize the moment that a new day brings. The challenge in leadership is to never stop growing, learning, adapting, and applying all that we can.

©2018 Doug Dickerson

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


Breaking News Alerts

To sign up for breaking news email alerts, Click on the email address below and put "email alerts" in the subject line: sdetar@thedanielislandnews.com

Comment Here