Sometimes the past just seems to bubble up without you realising it.
I went to a hockey game last winter (ice, not field) and something strange started to happen: my Canadian accent made a firm re-appearance. I do sound largely Canadian normally, but with a certain Aussie twang after over 15 years in the land Down Under.
For some reason, sitting in the crowd of a hockey game completely erased any trace of Aussie from my pronunciation. Hands deep in my pockets against the cold and sitting on the edge of my seat in an Australian ice rink, I was suddenly Canadian again, in my heart, in my mind, and in my voice.
And I didn’t even realise it until my kids asked me why I was talking funny.
It got me to thinking: what other settings or situations have an effect on us that wrangles up old habits without us even realising it? If just being in a hockey rink watching a game can actually change the way a person speaks, even the way a person thinks, what else can bring up the past – and is it a past you want to bring up?
The reappearance of an accent and a sudden recollection of the rules of hockey are harmless enough, but what if what if the situation recreated for you was one which brought out the not-so-best of who you once were?
When you’re a manager or a leader, at some point you’re going to need to work with someone who reminds you of someone you didn’t like, or something that happened that you’d rather forget. And your buttons may be easily pushed. You’re going to feel challenged, and things that you handled easily before will suddenly become challenging.
And you’re going to need to accept that when that happens, or when you react in ways you thought you’d put behind you, you need to be kind to yourself.
Accept it for what it is: an automatic response. It’s only once you’ve accepted that, that you can open the door to maybe choosing a different way of handling it now, in the present.
My pure Canadian accent wore away quickly after we left the ice rink, but that dramatic demonstration of how the past bubbles into the present has yet to fade away from my memory.