Remembering is part of who we are – it’s what separates us from all other living creatures.
Our Thanksgiving Day tradition honors this reality by dedicating one specific day each year to the simple, explicit concept of gathering to remember why we are grateful, to count our blessings.
Sharing our unique stories of successes and failures with one another, of lessons learned, strengthens our identity and culture. It provides a sense of continuity. This is true for any family, community, or nation.
Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, once said, “Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”
Remembering influences the way we live. Our memories and experiences from the past provide knowledge that helps us make informed decisions, balancing the present with the past. While it is wise to live in the present moment, and not get stuck in the past, we can become so fixated on the present, so certain that all we need to navigate our lives can be found on the internet, that we fail to remember how much our present, our identity and our culture are all shaped by our history.
Recently, I was reminded twice about the power of remembering – once during my family’s joyful Thanksgiving celebration, and then again while working with a group of leaders who were contemplating a major strategy change. Time after time during their discussion, these leaders recalled lessons from shared experiences that validated their culture as an essential element for their strategy’s success, and which ultimately directed their decision about the right way forward for this situation.
When that decision was finally made, the unanimous insight they shared was how productive it had been for them to be together in person, how recalling their stories, history and culture strengthened their commitment to the decision and their bond to one another.
How might the power of remembering strengthen your culture and accelerate your progress?