Advise Your Past Self

A viral trend invites introspection on how cooperatives change over time, and where leaders want them to go in the future.


If most adults discovered a video of their 12-year-old selves acting, well, like a 12-year-old, they’d probably be tempted to burn the evidence, not share it with the world. But that’s just what actor, filmmaker, and artist Jeremiah McDonald did in a recent viral video. The now 32-year-old edited together old footage from two decade ago with new clips to create a McDonald versus McDonald self interview across time.

The video has since spawned parodies and encouraged more than a few viewers to engage in some self-reflection about the passage of time. After catching up on the basics of modern life, including the lifespan of pets, and the glory of the Internet, the 1992 McDonald asks his future self about a favorite hobby (drawing), which will eventually fade in importance as he grows up.

Many of us have things we’d do differently, or perhaps things we’d stick with, if given advice from our past or future selves.

Would you share lotto ticket information or stock tips with your former self? Would you warn against that ex (you know the one) or that cute rose bud tattoo (since bloomed into a whole garden)?  Would a glimpse of your future self make you cut back on the sun tanning, or swear off bacon cheeseburgers? It’s possible.

Scientific experiments have shown that when we have the ability to better view the end results of the thousands of seemingly minute decisions we make each day, we actually alter our behavior and start making better decisions to correct what we deem as undesirable outcomes.

So what about your institutional life? Think back to when you first got involved in a financial career, co-operative or otherwise? If you were a die hard believer in the credit union concept, did your excitement fade away like McDonald’s cartoon rabbits or grow over time? If you credit union career started out as just a job, did it ever become much more than that?

How about as an institution? Individual credit unions, leagues, and regulators have made many changes over the years, including some past boards and members would applaud, and perhaps a few they could never imagine.

Our next annual report in the 1Q 13 edition of Credit Union Strategy & Performance (CUSP) will examine several long-lasting credit unions celebrating their anniversary and see how these institutions have changed and adapted over time. Use that upcoming resource, and our many others currently available, to create a consolidated image of your own institution’s past and plot a legacy your future self can be proud of.


July 25, 2012


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