Don’t Get Your Panties in a Bind

Posted by on August 19, 2013

One of the More Unusual Monday Morning Memos

Friends with important degrees from important universities are often outraged when they learn that I charge a lot of money for the benefit of my private observations. When I cheerfully and openly admit to these friends that I do, indeed, fabricate all that I know, or think I know, from the raw material of my own experience, it always puts their panties in a bind. (In other words, it makes them extremely uncomfortable.)

My educated friends don’t feel it’s right, somehow, that a person should be able to sell what he has learned when the method of his learning has been unsupervised listening and watching and reading and asking. They feel that I should be poor.

I’m telling you this because I’m about to share with you a controversial observation which might possibly be wrong, though I am unconditionally convinced of the truth of it. (If you disagree with me, please don’t let it put your panties in a bind.)

I believe that most business people are unnecessarily preoccupied with the future. These business people see the world changing at a precipitous rate, and consequently assume they must correctly forecast the future if they hope to find any success there.

I completely disagree.

No one will ever be able to forecast the events of tomorrow. Prognosticators of the future are wrong far more often than they are right. If you and I will be prepared for the future, I believe we must study the past. (Those panties still okay?)

The simple truth is that we are not making new mistakes. We are making the old mistakes over and over again. Most of us will probably continue to make the old mistakes far into the future.

I believe we are attracted to the future like moths to a flame because the future is titillating. Exciting. Unknowable. Fantastic. And the boring past can always be viewed with 20/20 hindsight.

But that is the magic of it.

If you will study and learn from the recurrent mistakes mankind has made through the centuries, and if you will study the recurrent elements of our greatest successes, then you will be prepared for the future, regardless of what tomorrow may bring.

Roy H. Williams

“History always repeats itself because we pay so little attention to it the first time.”

Blackie Sherrod

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