History is a powerful teacher. As the country celebrates July 4, there’s an opportunity to look back and study the lessons American history has to offer. Surely there are many, some with triumph and others with shame. It’s true that people today aren’t directly responsible for the successes and mistakes of the past, but they can still learn from it. You can’t claim as your own the great performances of others, but you can study and emulate what made them great. Similarly, you cannot change the past, but you can work to ensure that terrible history does not repeat itself.

The same is true in business. There is perhaps no better teacher than experience, but not everyone has it. Like with history, business leaders today have a responsibility to study past performance so as to maximize success and minimize mistakes. It’s not always easy to discern the lessons of the past - sometimes what looks like a cause is actually just side effect, or even a coincidence. Still, you must try, always staying open to new lessons.

Even in the unprecedented global, digital economy of today, there are lessons from history and business that can help guide the way. Here is wisdom from famous leaders, in history and business, to help you find your path to success:

1.     “In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.” - Edmund Burke

2.     “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” - Marcus Garvey

3.     “No one would deny that all wars and battles are regrettable acts of human folly, causing unjustifiable agony and distress to combatants and non-combatants alike-but these considerations should not preclude their serious study, if only to avoid the mistakes of the past which make such tragedies inevitable.” - David G. Chandler

4.     “Neither a wise nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

5.     “I can’t change history. I don’t want to change history. I can only change the future. I’m working on that.” - Boris Becker

6.     “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” - Maya Angelou

7.     “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.” - Colin Powell

9.     “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” - George Bernard Shaw

10.  “The best prophet of the future is the past.” - Lord Byron

11.  “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.” - John Adams

12.  “History must share with reading, writing and arithmetic first rank as the most important subjects in the curriculum. Understanding the issues on which citizens of a republic are expected to vote is impossible without an understanding of the past.” - Walter Cronkite

13.  “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” - Bill Gates

14.  “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” - Michelle Obama

“History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” - David McCullough

Published on: Jul 5, 2019
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