Read an Excerpt
Never Go Back
I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was sitting on my patio after I had found out that one of my businesses was in very serious trouble. I had hired someone to run it who, for close to a year, had given me strong and positive reports. I had no reason to think anything was amiss . . . until that morning.
He came into my office and told me that we needed a big infusion of cash to meet upcoming obligations. I was shocked. Everything he had been telling me had put me in the mind-set of expecting a big payoff in the near term, not the necessity of a cash infusion—and certainly not one of the size he was asking for. What the heck had happened?
I went into fire-drill mode and uncovered the truth by late afternoon. Suffice it to say, much of what he had been telling me was not true. We were not making money at all; rather, we had been losing money and were in big trouble. And worse, most of the business that he had told me was in the pipeline and secure for the next twelve months was not real. The reports he’d been giving me were more about what he had planned than about reality. Bottom line: The business was in the red and had little revenue set up for the next year. I was devastated.
So that night I went outside on my porch to sit and think and talk to God. That is when it happened. The phone rang, and when I answered it, my heart sank. It was one of my business mentors, a man who had been an immense help to me since I had first begun and who had poured much time and energy into me over several years. He was enormously successful in numerous industries. It seemed that everything he did worked, and he was the last person I wanted to talk to at my moment of failure. How could I tell him how stupid I had been to allow this to happen? He was going to fire me as a student for sure. I did not want to talk to him. Only loyalty and gratitude kept me from saying, “Sorry . . . no one here by that name,” and hanging up.
“What’s happening?” he asked, just checking in.
“Well . . . a lot. And it’s not good,” I said.
“What? What’s going on?” he asked.
“I have a horrible situation . . .” I began. “I have really, really screwed up.” I went from there to tell him the story and the situation I was in because I’d hired the wrong person and hadn’t been fully aware of what was going on in my business. I felt so foolish, so naϊve . . . and just dumb. It was horrible to have to listen to myself relay it.
When I finished the story, the phone was silent. It was probably only a handful of seconds, but it seemed like an eternity. All I could think was that he was going to fry me for being so stupid. Then he said it:
“Well . . . we’ve all been there.”
“What?” A bit stunned, I thought I’d misheard him. “We?” That sounded as if he had done the same thing himself, and that was certainly not possible. Everything he did always seemed to turn out great. What did he mean?
“Been where?” I asked.
“Made that very mistake,” he said. “Hired the wrong person or did a deal with the wrong partner, should have seen it coming, and paid dearly for it.”
“You’ve done that?” I was having a hard time believing my ears.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Anyone who has ever built anything or done anything significant has made that mistake. We’ve all had to learn that one.”
But what he said next was the real zinger:
“But the good thing is that once you learn that lesson, you never go back. You never do it again.”
That phrase never go back caught my attention, as I knew that I didn’t want to repeat what I had done ever again. I didn’t want to entrust something important—like my business—to someone unworthy of that trust ever again. My friend had my attention. The phrase “never go back” resonated.
And it is now the subject of this book—Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again.
“Never go back.” Never return to what didn’t work. What does that mean? I came to see that the essence of it is this:
There are certain awakenings that people have—in life and in business—that once they have them, they never go back to the old way of doing things. And when that happens, they are never the same. In short, they got it.
That was years ago. From there, I began to be very interested in two things in my work as a clinical psychologist and leadership coach. First, what are key awakenings that successful people go through that forever change how they do things and that propel them to succeed in business, relationships, and life? Identifying these keys could change lives significantly.
And second, once we intellectually understand what we should never do again, how do we actually change? It’s one thing to “understand”; it’s quite another to live out that understanding. Unfortunately, we humans often repeat the same mistakes over and over again. How do we stop?
In this book, we will look at these two questions:
1. What are some of the key awakenings that successful people experience?
2. How do we implement in life what we intellectually understand?
In my experience, both of these are key. In working with people who are highly successful in their personal and business lives, I have found that the answers to these questions are essential to completing the picture. Some people have learned how to implement change but cannot see the life-patterns that are holding them back and keeping them from fruitfulness. In this book, we will clearly identify destructive patterns and behaviors that you’ll never want to go back to.
Other people understand what they need to awaken to, but don’t know how to translate that understanding into new life-patterns. In this book, I’ll show you how.
An “Old, Unpopular, Religious, Negative” Word That Will Change Your Life
When I first got the idea for this book, I wanted to title it I Repent! My desire was to revive this old religious term that gets a bad rap. But I kept getting negative reactions to the idea. I’d literally hear things like . . .
“Sounds like an old angry preacher with white hair yelling at me. I would never read that book.”
“Terrible. Too negative. I would never pick it up.”
But then I would explain what the book is about. . . . “It’s really cool. It is about certain realizations that successful people have in life, and once they ‘get it,’ they never go back to seeing or doing things the old way. A shift occurs in them that leads to lasting change in key areas of life, such as happiness, relationships, and business. I like to think of it as a kind of ‘mental puberty.’ In physical puberty your body changes and you go through doorways never to come back. There is a permanent shift in body and mind. The pubescent youth literally changes.
“The same is true with our psychological, personal, and business growth. When we go through certain doorways of understanding, we never go back to our old way of seeing things,” I said. “People who are happy, successful, and have good relationships have gone through certain common awakenings. Once they get it, they are done with the old way and never go back.”
“That’s a lot more interesting than repentance,” I would hear. “I’d read that book!”
That is why you’re now reading the book Never Go Back!, formerly known in my mind as I Repent. But I do want to give it one more try with you and put a positive spin on an old negative word. “Repentance” truly is your friend, and brain research proves it. More about the research later.
True Repentance—Never Going Back—Means Understanding Reality
The response I got about an old angry preacher yelling at us pretty much illustrates the problem. People think of “repentance” as having to do with a parent, preacher, nun, or teacher scolding them and saying, “Don’t ever do that again!” It is a religious term with a lot of cultural baggage. It feels like a parent or authority figure telling you to stop doing something, and then you feel like you just have to do it. That is a problem.
The reason is this: whenever we get our backs up at a message that says we should not do something again, it shows that we are out of touch with life’s realities. Picture a parent telling a toddler to “repent” from running into the busy street. The toddler just looks at the parent as if the message or the messenger is the problem, sets his face in determination, and says, “Just watch me.” Dangerous indeed.
Such is the nature of the word “repentance.” Repentance is the adult equivalent of stopping at the curb and making sure no cars are coming before you cross the street—especially an adult who has experienced the reality of being hit by a car once before because she didn’t look. It is the realization that she does not want to do that again. It is not going to feel good. It felt really bad last time and it will feel bad again. And the realization of and commitment to that reality are stronger than the need, desire, or impulse to do it; so we are forever changed. We are no longer people who run into the street or hire the wrong person when we knew better—losing a lot of money, time, and energy in the process. We have repented, or literally “changed our mind and turned away” from that way of doing life. That is what the word actually means. In another word, we experience growth. Or maturity. Or better yet, wisdom.
I would love to see myself and the people I care about and work with have realizations every day and begin saying, “I repent! I will never do that again!” and mean it. That would indicate that we see the word as the positive force it truly is: a gift from God.
But, human as we are, I won’t try to force the word “repent” on you. You can call it something else if you want. What I will try to do is to help you to see the power of “getting it,” which means really, really, really changing your mind about some key realities that are keeping you from what you want out of life—personally or professionally—and turning from them. Whatever you call it is okay with me. I think “repent” is cool, but “never go back” is okay, too.
So in the first part of this book, we’ll explore ten key realizations about behaviors and thought patterns that hold us back and keep us from our goals. When you actually “get” the principles in the first part of the book, and then implement the helps you’ll find in the second part, you will never want to go back to your old ways—you will be forever different. You will never again . . .
1. Return to what hasn’t worked
2. Do anything that requires you to be someone else
3. Try to change another person
4. Believe that you can please everyone
5. Choose short-term comfort over long-term benefit
6. Trust someone or something flawless
7. Take your eyes off the big picture
8. Neglect to do due diligence
9. Fail to ask why you are where you are
10. Forget that your inner life produces your outer success
The above are realizations that successful people live by. And successful people all got where they are the same way. In every area of life, successful people change and grow into success via a predictable path that both experience and research document, and that the Bible describes and commands. They understand the very real consequences of doing things in an unproductive way; they “get it” in a way that transforms them, and they never go back to doing it the old way. The key realizations for success in all areas of life and the pathway to implementing those realizations are what you will learn about in this book.
So if “repent” rubs you the wrong way, then let’s turn away from ways that don’t work, and “never go back.” Let’s hop into them.