Glory Days: Are you living in the past?

  • Article
  • 3 February 2021

Hearing one of my favorite songs, Glory Days, written by Bruce Springsteen, prompted me to write this article. I think it is highly relevant today, even though the song  was written in the ‘80s.


It’s about a man who looks back on his high school ‘glory days’. It’s a tale of people who hit their peak early in life, basked in the glory, relive those days, reminisce, and try to recapture the feeling. Mostly, it’s about individuals who never moved beyond the glory, and hope that that the magic and memories will keep them alive and relevant, but find that not to be the case.


We all have glory days. Those times in our lives when we were the best at something, won an award, were recognized for excellence or achievement, and were cheered on by others. It made us feel energized, alive, and proud. We relive those days through looking at pictures, awards, and diplomas on our walls, and talking with others about how great we WERE. …Not how great we ARE. Glory days discussions are remembrances of the past – a different point in time when we were different people.


How many people do you know who spend more time talking about the past than the present or the future?


When working with my clients, I listen carefully for the words they use when they speak. Individuals who talk a lot about the past seem to spend their lives there – wishing and hoping that the glory days will return or blaming themselves for things that they did or didn’t do. Often this type of talk includes regret.


One thing we know about the past (even a second ago) is that we cannot go back; there is no rewind or replay button. We can learn from it, but not change it. Whatever we   did, or didn’t do, is a part of history.


Let’s talk about your glory days.


Your glory days? Are they behind you or ahead of you? Did you have wonderful successes in the past that you are still reliving? Do you sit back and reminisce about the great things that you once did, believing that the best has happened and that all you can do is look back? Or do you use your glory days as proof that you are capable, able, and motivated? Do you think “I did it once, I can do it again!”?


It is a choice


It can be easy and comforting to live in the past, thinking about your glory days. I’ve been there and done that from time to time. There are instances when I think “Wow, I  can’t believe that I did those things! Was that really me? And how can I live up to that?” Usually, that reminiscing happens when things aren’t going well and I’m facing challenges. My glory days are an excellent reminder that I am skilled, capable, competent, action oriented and can achieve results.


Mostly, I look to the future with my mantra “onward and upward”. I’ve had my share of glory days, as well as my share of non-glory days – failures, setbacks, and unexpected occurrences that totally changed my life. Living in the past, for me, is like giving up on life and the future opportunities and successes that it holds.


How can we apply this to business?


Resting on your laurels is not a good plan. If you’re resting on the laurels of the great work that you’ve done in the past and have slacked off a bit (you know who you are), it is important to pick up the pace and continue to do great work in the present and the future. You’ve set standards for your performance and others expect you to live  up to them. You should, too!


Staying current with what is the latest and the greatest, new, and innovative, will increase your value to the company. Individuals who come up with groundbreaking, out of-the- box thinking and solutions, or question the status quo garner more respect than those that say, “we’ve done it this way for years and we shouldn’t change it”.


Positive interactions – It’s often said that “you’re only as good as your last interaction.” Our memories are short. Therefore, the last interaction we had with another individual is what we tend to remember. If we received excellent service from a phone-in support line all year but had the misfortune to have someone new who didn’t know   much of anything on the line, we tend to remember that last exchange. It’s the same with leaders, managers, and supervisors.


Believe that your glory days are still ahead of you. There are lots of mountains still to climb, dragons to slay, and impacts to make. Believe that you have relevance, a contribution to make, a role to play, and make it happen!  Prove it to yourself and others that you are not just living in your glory days but creating them in the present.


There are glory days still ahead for me. I don’t believe that we have a finite number of them in our lives. We can create them when we are motivated to make a difference.


What about you? Are your glory days behind you or ahead of you?


“I think I’m going down to the well tonight.
And I’m going to drink till I get my fill.

And I hope when I get old, I don’t sit around thinking about it, but I probably will.

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture a little of the glory of, well time slips away

and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of glory days.”

If you’d like to enjoy the song, this is a link to a YouTube video.


Dr. Wilma Slenders PhD, PCC

Dr. Wilma Slenders is a renowned change management facilitator, leadership coach, and strategic advisor for organizations of all sizes and industries. Her insights come from over 20 years of hands-on experience and thousands of hours of teaching, consulting on, planning, and executing long-term professional leadership strategies and organizational strategies.

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