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History – An Important Tool for Our Lives

Every day we can see the influence of history.  Whether it’s in today’s current events or some other interaction in our lives – it’s there if you look.  Moving forward in many situations can be stressful, but a benefit of acknowledging history is that there are always lessons from our past that can guide us.

I have always been a fan of history.  In my younger years, it played into my enjoyment of adventures and the stories they presented.  Later in life, I still enjoyed the stories, but I also started to understand the education they could provide.  Now I find myself often looking to history to help me to make strategic, financial, and personal life decisions.


Influence on Strategy Decisions

An eye on the historical data has been influential with my team at HL Group – especially as we have been launching our latest version of mobilePLUS.  This perspective includes looking at data on past market forecasts, actual results, competitor’s history, and other data.  Plugging these research results into our models help us in our planning and execution moving forward.

Most recently, the economic downturn in the U.S. and the rest of the world has made us re-examine our planned strategy and adjust it to adapt to new circumstances.  Here, we spent time examining how, during the Depression in the 1930s, organizations managed not only to survive but to grow and position themselves for future success.  We then looked to see where we can learn from those stories.


“The practical value of history is to throw the film of the past through the material projector of the present on to the screen of the future.”

~ B. H. Liddell Hart


Influence on Financial Decisions

Whether in business or your personal financial decisions, history’s role in helping make our future decisions and plans may be critical.  A good example in our business is where we saw the growing value and impact of historical data for our client’s work – and expanded the mobilePLUS logging functionality.  Having this data helps our clients to quickly resolve issues as they arise, maximize the return on their existing investments, and provide valuable insight for future expenditures.

Personally, history definitely played into a recent car purchase.  Based on past purchases, I quickly saw that taking advantage of the current 0% financing offers would be a sound financial decision.  What is better than the benefit of spreading the cost over multiple years at no penalty?  And that’s just one of the financial deals available today.

When I look back at the 18% interest rate I secured for my first home purchase in 1982 – I wouldn’t have dreamed that a 30-year interest rate could be as low as 3%.  Today, it is.  With a reasonable investment return (based on history) in both of these cases, taking advantage of these offers made personal financial sense.


Influence on Personal Decisions

How many times in our lives do we wish we had a “do-over”?  I don’t think that there has been a day in my life that I wouldn’t grab one if I could.  In most cases, that thought comes up with relatively minor things.  But for some, a slight change in activity could have a profound difference in the outcome.

Look at batting averages.  If a player hits 300, they’re considered a star – even with a 70% failure rate.  After all, nobody is perfect or right all the time.  But if that same player took a swing at one or more of those pitches he passed on – that average might be very different.

The goal is not to repeat our mistakes.  Looking back on the mistakes we did make, we can find actions to eliminate, or correct if possible, and use the experience as a motivation to improve.  While we can’t change the past, it certainly can help us shape the future.


“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” 

~Teddy Roosevelt


Summing It Up

For many, the topic of history may have a negative connotation from all of the focus placed on date memorization when we were in school.  This attitude is frequently carried into our adult lives many times – because we are still learning the lessons of its value.

Challenge yourself today to look at history differently – and see it as a valuable tool to help us improve personally and as a community.


“I can’t change your past, but I can help change your future.”

~ Martha Christmas, School Counselor