Sorry Uncle Rico-1982 is so … 1982

Have you ever known someone so desperate to be living in the past that they lose sight of today? Have you been that person? Are you that person?

Uncle Rico is so obsessed with a single moment in his past that had the potential to define a life of greatness. Without a doubt, in his own mind, if he had “taken state”, he’d be sitting in a hot-tub with his soul-mate. Unfortunately, it did define his life. And as long as he has that VHS tape close by, it will continue to define him.

Rico’s coach pulled him from the last play of the last game of the last year of his high school career. Maybe he knew something Rico didn’t understand. Did he really believe he had what it takes to be a star QB in college and the NFL in his misdirected, albeit vivid, imagination? All his energy was poured into that one moment in a way that robbed him of understanding his true potential.

We all have those moments where success is at our fingertips and somehow we are not the one to fulfill that destiny, either because it gets handed off to someone else or success was not really inevitable. Our “why” questions may be more about external factors than about taking accountability and learning to be better the next time. It may also be about a failure to understand our true talents.

This often leads to surrounding ourselves with sympathetic ears. People who have missed success by “that much”. Rather than help, these people keep us absorbed in what we believe might have been. They also and encourage attitudes and behaviors that hold us back. They just might take pleasure in your pain:

If this looks familiar, you are playing in the wrong arena. You deserve better. And you can accomplish more.

In times of change, whether it is a relatively arbitrary moment, like the New Year or a birthday, or a more significant event like a time of transition or deferred success, we need to “think forward”. Yes, the past is interesting, helpful, and worthy to remember. But past moments cannot be relived. Instead, the future can be created. Figure out how you will recover and pivot. Ask yourself some key questions:

Do I understand who I am?

What are my talents? How do others see me? Are my efforts leveraging my strengths? How much time am I spending trying to fix weaknesses I’ve never been able to fix?

Did I understand what it would take to be successful in that moment?

Was I prepared? Did I put in the effort? Were my expectations reasonable? What were my missteps? What helped or hindered? What would have helped?

Am I willing to hear truth from friends?

Have I surrounded myself with friends that will tell me what I need to hear? Do I ask for the truth? Do I hide from the truth? Do I use that truth to propel me forward?

How am I going to learn and grow from this?

Do I seek comfort over effort? Does the past look more appealing than the future? How are you going to get out of your comfort zone? Am I ok with the blood, sweat, and tears that may require?

Today is your day. If you miss the opportunity today, learn from it. Fold those learnings into the opportunity you will create tomorrow. You will soon look back on your ’82 for what it taught you instead of as the one and only chance for greatness you’ll ever have. When you do, you will make the world a better place not only because of the great things you do, but because of how you build resilience and leverage challenges and failures as opportunities to grow.


Brian Rensing (@_bpr_) is a transformational business leader who exploits technology to fuel business growth. He is on the organizing committee for TEDxBocaRaton and volunteers for a non-profit called No Perfect People, Inc. He can be reached by phone at 513.708.9209 or by email at

Originally published at on December 25, 2014.

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