Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

A Wayne Gretzky Story

…..…. on moving forward

There is a famous quote by hockey great, Wayne Gretzky, where he describes one of his skills:  He didn’t skate to where the puck was but rather to where it is going to be.  I recently read a reference to this quote as a reference to relationships and had one of those real light bulb moments.

The story summarized as follows:  If you have a conflict with a sister, friend or co-worker and you always think about where the relationship was in the past you cannot move on. You keep replaying the problems or the injustices and keep remembering the bad feelings.  You may obsess about it.  Every time you see the person who did you harm, you feel the old pain and the old hurts.

But, if you only keep dragging up where it started, you will not ever figure out how to end it.  Revenge doesn’t provide real closure.  The negatives keep playing over and over and control your life. It makes for great TV (think Emily Van Camp on Revenge) but not a great reality. Focusing on the future and where you want to go is the only way to move on.

Going Back Won’t Let You Go Forward

You can think about this on many levels.  When countries keep going back to where a conflict started, they remain stuck.  In a visit to the Balkans last year, we learned about how the Serbs, Croats and Bosnians can each come up with an older war where they were the aggrieved party.  Each keeps going back to why they are really the superior group of people.  It is hard to focus on future peace and understanding if you feel that the past must be revenged.

In the history of relations between the US and Iran, Americans do not want the Iranians to get a nuclear bomb and have caused economic hardship on the average Iranian citizen.  Our distrust is often centered on the takeover of the US embassy and the taking of hostages in 1979.  They say that they needed to do this to show a complete break with the US backed regime of the government of the Shah whose father was placed in office after a US backed coup of an elected Iranian government in the 1950’s.  How can it ever end if ever one can go back to an earlier harm?

Taking Gretzky’s Advice

Sports analogies often escape me but I liked the Gretzky story.  Do you have a problem with a sibling who Mom or Dad liked best or who was mean to you as a child?  Are you feeling slighted about a co-worker who received praise you feel should have come your way?  Don’t go back to where the problem began because you may never get out of the hole.  And you need to move on.   Rather than focus on the past think about whether there is the basis for a new relationship.

It may be hard to have Gretzky be the messenger of world peace, but a little inner calm coming from focusing on a better future is a good thing.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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