Success is Where You’re Going — NOT Where You’ve Been

Ever notice how some people live life looking in the rear-view mirror. They can’t let go of the past and the “what ifs” in order to live in the present and forget about the future – it’s not even in the picture.

On a weekly basis, we talk to companies that are struggling with hindrances which are keeping them from being successful. Be it operational issues, marketing issues, software issues, hiring and retention issues, we hear the same stories over and over. We see owners and managers trying to solve problems using the same mindsets and techniques that have put them in, and kept them in, the self-defeating predicaments they are in.

Now, I have to ask an obvious question here – What’s wrong with this picture? Why do we continue to be bound by the bad decisions and actions we made and implemented in the past and keep repeating?  Why can’t we acknowledge that change is necessary and that we need help so we can get it?

I recently visited with one of my clients and, after an hour of listening to his problems, I started laughing?  Of course, his response was, “Why are you laughing?  This is serious.”  To which I replied: “Listen, I’m not laughing at you; I hear the same basic issues all the time. What I’m chuckling at is not the fact that you guys keep shooting yourselves in the foot – It’s how fast you can reload”!  

You see – I’ve been there. I know the headaches of running a successful, as well as a struggling, construction company. It’s a tough, unforgiving, time- and emotion- consuming business, but for us who love the industry and choose to make it our profession, we may need to step back from managing the day-to-day chaos and honestly evaluate where we’ve been, where we are now and, most importantly, where we’re going.

We have to acknowledge our failures and weaknesses and let them go. We need to “MAN UP” and confess that we don’t know it all and may even need some help in sorting it all out. We need to find a confidant –one who doesn’t have a dog in the fight – to bounce our concerns and ideas off. This may lead you to engaging a consultant. Unfortunately, our industry is full of consultants who offer all kinds of products and services and some are really great; however, when you drill down, you usually find that even though they are highly educated and may even have MBA or Masters in Construction Management degrees with a ton of textbook theory and knowledge, they have never seriously worked in or run a construction business. In fact, they may be about as qualified to tell you how to manage your business as you are to consult them on how to run theirs, which, of course, is totally insane.

Taking that first step and acknowledging that you might need to hire someone to help you is a major breakthrough in moving forward. The right confidant, with the right heart, motives and real-life experiences in the industry can be a blessing, not only to you and your business, but most importantly to your family and close friends.

When we work with clients, the first thing we want to flush out is, “Do you really want to change?” and “Can you let go?” By letting go, we mean a couple of things. One is, can you move (grow) from being a manager to a leader? Can you let go of some of the hands-on, day-to-day activities which give you that adrenaline rush that all of us “Type A” personalities like and surround yourself with qualified individuals you can trust and can delegate responsibilities to?

Secondly, and probably more importantly, is, “Can you let go of the past?” The past is filled with “that’s how we always do it,” “that’s how we did it at the last place I worked,” “that’s the only way I know how to do it” activities and processes that must be continually reviewed to assure that they are relevant to your business today and that they are efficient and technically sound. By technical, I mean precise, efficient and optimized through the use of today’s high-tech hardware and software platforms.

BUT – even more so, “Can you let go of your past regrets, failures, sins, vices, what ifs, etc.?”  This is the tough one and the hardest to address without the right partner walking beside you to listen, support and help you, without being judgmental or patronizing, while keeping the conversation direct, honest and, equally important, holding you accountable.

This is when and where you stop looking into the rear- view mirror and start looking out the windshield, envisioning what the future can be. This is what we call “getting from here to there.”  It’s a process; it doesn’t happen overnight, but it is the single most important journey you may ever take. Getting free from self-defeating thoughts and actions and replacing them with sound life principles can restore your business and your family.

At the end of the day, the only real thing that matters is your family and the ones you love. Are you giving them all of yourself that they deserve? Are you there for them to give you the love and attention you deserve and they want to give you?

What does the view through the windshield and down the road honestly look like? You– and you only–have the ability to evaluate it and assure that it is a safe, honest, pleasant and rewarding journey.

I wish you, your company and your family the best in the months and years ahead. If you ever need a listening ear, we’re always here to support you.

To success in all your endeavors,


 Success is Where You Going Not Where You’ve Been

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About the author

Kent Leighton, Founder of The Flat Rock Group, has more than 40 years of experience in the Construction and Development Industry. Having owned a successful midsize General Contracting firm he understands the opportunities and trials of running a successful business enterprise. His passion is sharing his victories and his scars with leaders and managers to help them grow and prosper.