In the recent Dreamworks movie, Kung Fu Panda, Oogway the wise turtle and Kung Fu Master, says:
“Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
But today is a gift.
That is why it is called the present.”
You might not think that the effects of the current economic turmoil are a gift, but it is still the present. And it is the present that we are living in. And it won’t always be.
Things will be different tomorrow. You will receive a new present. You don’t know what it will be - it is a mystery. And today will be history.
Each new moment arrives with a new present.
And as each new present arrives, the last one becomes history.
There is only ever now.
So how do you make the most of all these presents? And make sure that they don’t just become so much clutter in the attic of history?
One way is to create each tomorrow as something that aligns with your values, and that will move you towards the fulfilment of your dreams, goals and commitments.
Over recent weeks, many people have said things to me like “I’ve been through recessions before, but this one is different - I have no idea where it is going, when it will end or what to do. It is like being in a thick fog.”
Well, first of all, one thing is certain - it will end. Equally certain, some things will never be the same again, and that’s fine, because progress only happens when things change. If we kept recreating the past then all we would end up with is more of the same - and very little opportunity for growth.
And even in the depth of all the fog and confusion, it is still possible to keep moving towards the fulfilment of your dreams, goals and commitments.
Too often we live life like it’s a short term game - many argue that that is one of the reasons why the financial sector is experiencing the turmoil that it is now: too much focus on short term results. We lock onto the short term; the next few days, weeks, months or at most 2 or 3 years, and that causes us to become lost in the fog. If we have only short term plans and can’t see as far as them, we have no idea what to do next.
Imagine for a moment that you are literally lost in the fog - if you focus on a short term result, say being certain that you travel the next 50 yards in exactly the right direction, then you probably won’t move at all because any movement, except directly towards you target, is taking you away from it. If you happened to be unlucky enough to go in completely the opposite direction, you would end up twice as far from your goal.
Now, expand your vision. Say you aim towards a point 500 miles away. Any movement you make has a 50% chance of being towards your target, and even if you set off in the opposite direction, because it’s a short term movement in a long term context, you’re only a small distance off target, and can easily correct for it when the fog clears. Incidentally, did you know that long haul aircraft fly in the “wrong” direction for about 95% of the time, and are constantly making course corrections?
Bring that concept back to the metaphorical fog that we find ourselves in now. If your business or life plans are for, at most, 2 or 3 years it’s not surprising if you don’t know what to do right now. How best to deal with current circumstances? As I said earlier, things will be different, but right now, few people would want to bet on how. However, if you have a vision, based on your values, that stretches ten or more years into the future then that will give you the direction to take today. When you work this way you acquire a kind of inbuilt compass, which gives you a strong innate sense of direction, even in the thickest fog.
By creating that vision in the present, you give yourself the gift of certainty. The current conditions will change and we will find ourselves in a growth environment again. Many of today’s most successful businesses, such as Sun, Cisco and Adobe, were started during recessions.
Also, by working on a 10 year plus time scale, anything (and I do mean anything) becomes possible. In September 1998 Google was incorporated, opened a bank account and hired it’s first employee. 10 years later, it employs nearly 20,000 people, turns over around $20 billion, and is valued at almost  $160 billion! Like I said, anything is possible in 10 years. And what has given them direction throughout that time? Five words that align with their values and move them towards the fulfilment of their dreams, goals and commitments: “Never settle for the best.”
I’m sure that in 1998 they didn’t have a detailed plan to get where they have by 2008. And I’m definitely not suggesting that you should either. It is about creating a vision and a direction, and  then pursuing it relentlessly.
And there is only ever now.
And as for tomorrow? Well, that’s up to you.


11 Responses to There is only ever now…

  1. Tim Malbon says:

    Hi Doug. Looking good. Quite a long post though

  2. Sue Meadows says:

    I found this very interesting very true.

  3. matthew says:

    Hi Doug
    How are you ?
    long time no see I hope things are going well fo you
    Thanks for your thoughts
    heres one from me
    time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time (:)
    speaking of which i dont have any time today but will find some soon

  4. Ray Jackson says:

    Hi Doug, really interesting and in line with where my thinking is at the moment. I suppose for some the fog is not helped by media hype of the current situation. There is reporting the facts and then there is creating a self fulfilling prophecy.
    Let me know what you think about the article I sent you.
    Rgds, Ray

  5. David Sherman says:

    Hi Doug,
    Nice to hear from you and I acknowledge and appreciate your commitment to People.
    I personally am in love with life and especially the sacred opportunity of being alive at this particular time, its incredible. Where we are as a spices right now is at a tipping point with the next few months and years determine our future. Not a future of getting out of the fog as you put it or one of renewed and continued growth, but one of weather or not we will be here at all. I feel that a key here is to not feed the collective fear that is out there and continually fed by the media but truly get where we are and that where we are meant to be.
    What is calling us is not to find a way out of the fog but for want of a better analogy become the fog and create a species that can and will guarantee its own survival. That would be a first in the history of the world and we are evolving to make that happen, now that’s a game worth playing………….My love and respect to you…..David Sherman

  6. Kate Newman says:

    Hi Doug
    Watched the film and totally agree with the sentiment of being in the present. Sometimes too people need to fail a few times to learn the lessons for success, others just get it right first time! I do beleive that people make their own luck and getting it right first time is more likely for people that have the long-term in mind, their horizon is that much bigger and their framework more structured.

  7. Frank Piazza says:

    Hi Doug.
    An interesting thought provoking article that puts things into context.
    We are too often just racing ahead to achieve things that we think we should be achieving without enjoying the present and soaking up the beauty of the present.
    Best Regards,
    Frank P

  8. Zebedee says:

    Hello Doug,
    I would like to echo the thoughts of many who have commented on this post and add that if your experiences in life teach you anything, it is that nothing in life is certain and no amount of planning can make it so.
    Enjoying the now, can very much focus our minds on enjoying what life has to offer including the curve balls, because it is those unexpected happenings in life that create opportunities, whether we seize them or not is another matter.

  9. Hi Doug
    Yes being in the ‘now’ is so important but being and thinking positive in the now is another thing. With this financial ‘crisis’ everytime one opens a newspaper or listens to the news all one hears is doom and gloom. The more positive one ‘feels’ and thinks, and it has to come from the heart, the less negativity there will be. Because what we think becomes the truth. Every thought we think is creating our future so what would be great, would be to have a ‘positive thinking’ day, then lets see what happens! Louise Hay says that ‘when we create peace and harmony in our minds, we will find it in our lives’.
    Take care

  10. Lesley Williams says:

    Hello Doug,
    I enjoyed your article and it reminded me how much better things are when we live in the present moment. We can always gain something from our “gift” of the present and during these media fed misery days the sun is still shining, the birds are still singing and we have a great deal still to be grateful for. I love life, I don’t always understand immediately where it is leading me but that is part of the joy, it would be so much less fun if we all knew exactly where we were going and how we were going to get there.

  11. mike allen says:

    hi doug
    We are all in the fog the main thing is keep walkingdirection is unimportant it is what you do when you bump into what ever and keep looking , everything can be an oppertunity . in these times there are only oppertunitys, tuff stuff only makes you strong .theres nothing like a kick in the cods to focus the mind . as you say the world has been short tern for to long we could only pass the goods round so manny was allways going to stop and as allways the wourld will change ,the fog will go the sun will shine and get ready for the ride of you lives i am exsited by the future ,and most of all enjoy it

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