A recent team retreat we facilitated was with a team who had been together a long time. They definitely knew each other’s weaknesses and strengths as well as they knew their own. The business owner had committed to having an open dialogue with his team on how they could improve communication and operations. Like many of us, he has some idiosyncrasies and many of them crept into his leadership. This retreat was a continuation of his personal focus on becoming conscious of the impact these had on his team.

As we were talking, one of the team members said they had been keeping track of every time the owner had done X or X, and collected them in a file.  (If you’ve been reading my postings, you know I have a tendency to be self-critical with a high- definition memory bank of past foibles. I certainly don’t want to know someone else is keeping track as well.)

Keeping a record of past mistakes is not an uncommon activity in teams, families and of course, our own minds. It is an example of how much our focus can be on the negative side of anything. This particular focus on the reams of past wrongs hindered the ability to focus on the owner’s openness to change and seeing his intentional desire to change. It brought the negative energy of the past into the present, and impacted the ability to generate positive expectations about what can/will be changed.

I get it. It’s easier to focus our energy on the negative. We are even hard wired that way as a protective mechanism. I can easily focus on the past mistakes and continue to let that focus influence my present. I will then quite easily take that energy into my future.

Up Until Now. A great tool I was taught years ago helps me get present with this negative thought. It then creates a cut off point to let go and refocus on the future possibilities. I simply acknowledge that past negative “truth or reality” by saying “Up until now…” Rather than saying “I never keep my promise to myself to daily exercise”, I say: “Up until now, I have never kept my promise to daily exercise.” Rather than: “I always make the same mistake when I do X”, I say: “Up until now, I’ve made the same mistake when I …”

This helps me cut off my focus on a perceived negative past and puts more positive, trusting, change energy into designing the future I want to create. Then I can state my intention for what happens now with a positive, fresh view that’s more energizing and more open to creative possibilities.

Up until now, I’ve been a foibles filer,