Hindsight is often referred to as 20/20 vision or Monday morning quarter-backing. So typical… it’s already late in the week.
Hindsight is foresight late on the scene. It is wisdom that has arrived late to the game. It is an appreciation of events after they have taken place.
Hindsight is frequently associated with regret, of hopes deferred, opportunities lost, and griefs borne.
The voice of hindsight is often says:
- “I wish I had had thought of that“
- “I wish I knew then what I know now.“
- “Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.“
English actor Daniel Day-Lewis learned from it. He said,
“When I was younger, I made some decisions that I shouldn’t have. And, in hindsight, I’ve almost always been wrong when I haven’t listened to myself.“
I think we would all be wiser to do so.
Hindsight is the ability to gain clarity by looking back in retrospect. If you had this kind of clarity beforehand, it would be foresight, a type of wisdom that would prevent you from making mistakes in the first place. But not all mistakes are detrimental. Some mistakes actually serve as stepping stones to greater success.
The Benefits of Hindsight
If you’ve taken the time to reflect, through hindsight, about what needs to change, what can be done to be better, you will
realize some of these benefits:
- allows you to take internal inventory in every area of your life
- avoid costly future mistakes
- causes you to consider what you would have done differently
- learn vicariously from your life experience and that of others
- permits you to question what other options you have at your disposal for future
Hindsight cannot tell you what to do now. Yes, you may learn a thing or two looking back, but what happens when you experience something for the very first time? You don’t have the benefit of hindsight to help you. You simply need to weigh your options, press forward and hope for the best possible outcome. Once you have the experience, reflective hindsight will inform you.
Where do you see yourself a few years from now? What are you doing? Who are you with?
Since, you’re there in your mind’s eye (because you’re planning your future anyway) ask yourself,
What can I learn from this? What wise counsel would I give myself?
What if you could travel to the future and post your younger self a letter? What wise counsel would you send?
The Hidden Power of Hindsight
Herein lies the hidden power of hindsight. You don’t have to wait for something to happen before learning from a possible outcome. Foresight is proactive thinking. It allows for the recognition of realities, possibilities or requirements of a situation, event, decision, etc. before its occurrence. It also takes the valuable lessons and experience of hindsight into consideration by understanding and remembering what is important to pay attention to. This realization and recognition allows one to use these insights to be better prepared to handle matters.
You can learn as much from this as exercise as you can learn vicariously from the mistakes of others. But, in this case, you don’t make the mistakes. It is by using foresight — predicting future potential problems — that you prepare yourself with contingency plans for greater success.
This allows you to perhaps make a different decision than you would have otherwise.
Hindsight is an exact science. It is looking through the retrospective lens, that these experiences inform our intellect of the need for change, and the lessons that are invaluable because they pave the way for greater improvements.
Though the landscape of life may be silhouetted with errors, there is always hope because every one of us has room for such improvement. But that same retrospective lens provides us with the knowledge of errors avoided, the wisdom of making proper choices in the moment that, in hindsight, would otherwise have been harmful.
Looking through the lens further out, historical hindsight comes into view.
In May, 2011, Queen Elizabeth II gave an Irish State banquet speech in Dublin castle,
offering sympathy for those dead and injured as a result of their troubled past. She said, in part,
“To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts
and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would
wish had been done differently or not at all.“
This kind of hindsight serves as a memorial in the peace process, but is also instructive. Of course, this is only one example. I sometimes wonder if humanity will ever learn its lessons.
Hindsight is good for testing the truth of what you think you know.
Hindsight is also the name of the rear sight of a firearm. So think about where you have your sights set, and where
you’re aiming at in life. It just may steer the course of your actions.
Over to You Now… Have Your Say!
What are the greatest lessons that you’ve been able to learn in hindsight?
What would you like others to know to save them the pain of what you went through?
Please share your wisdom here.
It is truly appreciated! Thank you so much!