Remember to forget

Remember to forget

From the time we are children we are taught that forgetting is bad. We forgot our lunch box at school and our parents scolded us. When we are older we forgot too, and the consequences can be harsher ... we forgot to pay the car payment, and now our credit is impacted. So we learned, forgetfulness is bad, but is that always the case?

Sometimes in life, forgetfulness is good. Yes, you read that right. Let's examine some of the things we might want to forget:

  • Past hurts - sometimes the ones that love us, hurt us. Sometimes it is healthy to forget, in order grow.
  • Mistakes made - there are always going to be those decisions we look back on and think, "why did I do that"? But you cannot change it now, can you? Learn from the wrong decision, then forget it.
  • Past successes - that's right, successes! Sometimes we achieve something amazing in our careers or our personal lives, and then we dwell in that place. Take time to celebrate your successes, but do not stay there -- forget so you do not stay in your past but move ahead to something greater in your future.

I'm a product guy so I can't help but think of examples from product management as well. As a product manager, sometimes you need to forget:

  • Old customers - ok, I am not taking about their age here. However with mature and otherwise healthy products, you develop longtime customers that are not evolving. Ask yourself: are my longtime customers challenging me to deliver new value? Or are they fixated on the same tired features we built into the product years ago?
  • Old problems - are you focused on new problems faced by your potential customers, or are you building for the old problems faced by customers that are not trying new things? Make sure you spend significant time each week thinking of new problems associated to your potential customers' business challenges.
  • Old approaches - be sure to forget the old way of building product, and evolve to new approaches that get your product to market faster. Adopt agile methodologies and build for SaaS delivery. You might think your product will be better than your competitor's product, but if he or she gets it to market before you and captures your potential customer, what does it matter?

So the lesson here is remember to forget. You will be surprised at the power of forgetfulness.

Please share your point of view below and share some of your own examples as well.