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Q&A with John Schuster

Berrett-Koehler Staff Posted by Berrett-Koehler Staff.

Connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all!

Q&A with John Schuster

Q & A with John Schuster, author, Power of Your Past

Why did you write this book?

To let out this really well kept secret! The most effective people and leaders know who they are because they have a great relationship with their past. Most people have hardly even considered how important this is. This a cultural blind spot of major proportions that we can do something about.

What are some of the benefits of remembering the past?

Three things: your identity, your potential, and your direction. If you enter the right relationship with your yesterdays, you better know who you are, your values (identity). You know what you are capable of (potential) and don’t sell yourself short for a goal that a less wise person, like you when you were younger, put in front of you, that won’t really use your original gifts. You create your own path (direction). So many of us think we chose our path when instead we settled for what well meaning people guided us into, and which is wrong for us. Knowing where you came from deeply helps you know what you want to do, where, and with whom.

What if I can’t remember the past?

Talk to others who were there with you, like siblings, schoolmates and co-workers. Hear their stories. Start to get their versions, and see what that triggers for you. We all have some memories. With some effort and practice, we can access a lot more.

What do I do with those memories once I recall them?

Get the specifics. See how they make you feel. How do you interpret them. Make meaning out of them. What you remembered, and how you interpret it when you are 15 will be different than 30, 45, or 60. That is the point. Memories are not fixed.... What we recall changes, gets new textures, and as we grow older and wiser the lessons and values we draw from them grows in value.

Can you explain the process of Recalling, Reclaiming, and Recasting?

This is not about accuracy. It is about what you remember.

Recalling is going for the images: old ones that you have access two and “new” ones that you have forgotten. The book provides a step by step approach to use your imagination and your analytical side to review your interaction with the world; for example, education and family and religion (and gender and more, of course, especially what was specifically powerful for you). After you recall all these you do two things:

  • Reclaim the juice and meaning in the positives. This gets forgotten and devalued
  • Recast the limits that come with the negative memories. These will keep you captive if you don’t re-interpret them from a wiser place in life. When they happened you created conclusion, made career-limiting decisions, and made of host of choices that need revisiting.

How will this help me in my life, both personally and professional?

All kinds of ways: identity, potential and direction.

You become more of who you are, walking in the direction you set, with goals that you and only you can forge as the original contribution for which you were born.