Don’t Look Back, We’re Not Going That Way!

Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off-Road

Have you ever been confused about the direction of your next step?

I’ve heard this line attributed to Will Rogers, but I have been unable to verify it as a fact. If he didn’t say it, he probably would be glad to take credit for saying it.

One of the advantages of maturing is the opportunity to look back and evaluate our experiences. I say opportunity because not everyone will do it, and others will begin, but quit because of what they may see.

When I look back, I see several decisions I made that looked right at the time but turned out negatively.

I can see many correct decisions also, but it’s the ones that embarrass me now stand out under an honest review.

It is interesting to observe decisions, professionally and personally, where I returned and retried something after moving on. Fortunately, the results were mixed and not harmful.

The common denominator in making the decisions was succumbing to decide in the vacuum of the present. Our culture has become one that emphasizes “Now” and gives little weight to history and future consequences. I believe this phenomenon has grown significantly since the 1960s, and if left unchallenged, will continue to grow and damage individuals, families, and our nation.

We have so many resources to take advantage of in every decision. If we study it, history has examples of virtually every experience we will encounter. Our family, friends, and mentors would love us to seek their counsel, but I have overlooked that valued advice more times than I would like to admit.

The key to maximizing our decision success for today and making decisions that will stand the test of time is to get out of the vacuum of the present and consider past events and the impact on the future. It may be better to slow down our decision process to succeed more often despite the pressure to make decisions faster. Cell phones, the Internet, and e-mail communications enhance the pressure to respond more quickly to decision requests.

A humorous example of this principle happened to our family recently. We were driving from Austin to Dallas, and family persuasion convinced me to take Interstate 35 against my better judgment. Traffic was heavy on the road with too many accidents, blocking traffic for hours.

In Waco, I deliberated taking a secondary road connected to Interstate 45 to avoid potential problems during the last 100 miles. Because traffic was moving at an acceptable speed, I decided to press on and passed the alternative road.

Within 4 miles, I could see traffic ahead stopped. Realizing that I could take an eastbound road and connect with the road leading to Interstate 45, I decided to exit I-35. My former wife and Elizabeth were resting in the back seat as we set out over a road that wasn’t on my map.

As I drove down the asphalt side road, it became bumpier and bumpier and was barely two lanes wide.

My family was awakened and startled to discover we weren’t on a recognizable road.

When I explained that we were taking a shortcut, they demanded that I return to the familiar Interstate. My daughter screamed, “We’re all going to die!” I told them, “We’re not going back. I know that this road will lead to where we want to go and will save a lot of time.”

Shortly, the asphalt pavement ended, and the road turned into gravel and then dirt. My family elevated their displeasure and demanded that I turn around. Again, I stated, “We’re not going back. Everything will be ok.”

For what seemed to be a much longer time than I’m sure it was, I pressed on, and the cries to turn back became louder and more frequent. If anyone would have seen us, I’m sure they would have hurt themselves laughing at our behavior. The car was speeding down the road with the dust flying around and behind it. I intended to drive until we found our destination, and family was screaming at the top of their lungs.

Several miles later, the road became asphalt again. We saw a lady in her front yard, and I stopped to verify my route to please my nervous passengers. “Just take a right at the stop sign ahead, and it will lead you to your highway in a few miles,” the lady assured us.

Since you’re reading this, you know that we found our way out of the wilderness and back to civilization. I asked my daughter if she didn’t enjoy the adventure, and she said that she didn’t like that much adventure. Despite taking a different path, we achieved our goal.

As a humorous side note, Elizabeth asked me the next year as we were preparing to make the same journey, “Daddy, are we going to leave the paved road this year?”

One of my hero’s, Davy Crockett, said, “Be sure you’re right and then go ahead.” I wish I could say I made all of the decisions I have made in that sequence.

I hope that your path is forward and paved with the assurance that comes from well-thought-out decisions.

© 2019 — Richard V. Battle

Richard V. Battle is a speaker, multi award-winning author of seven books, and business consultant. This excerpt is from Conquering Life’s Course: Common Sense in Chaotic Times. Visit him online at




Richard V. Battle is a business consultant, speaker and the award winning author of seven books including his latest Navigating Life’s Journey.

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Richard V. Battle

Richard V. Battle

Richard V. Battle is a business consultant, speaker and the award winning author of seven books including his latest Navigating Life’s Journey.

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