I shall avoid the obvious cliché of “doesn’t time fly, …” etc., but every year I look back on the previous twelve months without actually getting a greater sense of perspective. To put things in context, I started my traineeship in August, 1987 and spent just over 12 years with that first firm (no longer with us, due to merger) until September, 1999. I then spent just over 8 years with my second firm (again, no longer with us due to merger) and now, since 27th October, 2007, I have clocked up a further 12 years with Kepstorn. By the end of November, I will have spent more time with Kepstorn than with either of the other two firms.
A sense of perspective is essential in all aspects of life; what may seem insurmountable or intractable can often be seen, in the context of previous experience, to be less problematic. Even the current climate of uncertainty will, in years to come, provide a sense of perspective for future crises. Churchill used the phrase: “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it” (apparently a slight mis-quotation of George Santayana, fifty years earlier). Whoever coined the phrase, no one can argue with the fact that the past provides the experience to help deal with the future.
Whilst it is true that a reference to the past is essential, its downside is that it is easy to ignore the future. The past can often try to drag us backwards: the siren song of “golden eras”; the perception of a simpler life (after all, problems faced and overcome seem far less threatening than those that we are yet to overcome). The “known” is a safer place than the unknown. In business this can be manifested in the “we’ve always done it that way” approach and a failure to see opportunities to strike out in new directions.
Perspective is just that – an ability to see the future in light of the past.
Putting the two together, experience must inform the approach to the future but not dictate it. If your experience leads you to a pessimistic view then you may not approach the future with any great enthusiasm. Scepticism, on the other hand, is a very useful tool! If your experience gives you a sense of optimism, that will encourage you to embrace the opportunities that the future presents. Bounding like a puppy into the unknown, however, is never a sensible approach to take!
With all that in mind, I’m not going to dwell on the last twelve (or thirty two) years. Although there is a huge amount to be delighted about with how the business has grown and developed, it will not continue to grow and develop by either looking back or standing still. You don’t need me to remind you that the future looks more uncertain now than it has for very many years (and given what has happened over the past ten years or so, that is certainly saying something)! Every “threat”, however, provides an opportunity. All risks carry with them potential rewards.
I hope that you are able to embrace the clean slate that the future presents with a level of optimism that allows you to write your own narrative and to take advantage of the rewards that will undoubtedly be available. I hope that your experience of the past allows you to navigate the challenges that will arise and to avoid any pitfalls that open up in your path.
My musings this year do seem to have taken a rather odd slant – clearly a sign of age (and the times in which we live)! For those of you who read Private Eye, I realise that parts of what I have said could justifiably appear in “Pseuds Corner”!
The bottom line is that, after 12 years, I’m still having a great time, am delighted with the way that things have gone so far and am optimistic (even very optimistic) about what the future holds. Thank you, as ever, for your continued support, personally and professionally.
Now, in the “lucky” thirteenth year of Kepstorn, what could possibly go wrong …?!