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No ragrets - The power of regret


After reading Daniel pinks new book, the power of regret, it got me thinking a lot on how we view regret and how, as the book explains, we can use it to our advantage.

The books main message is ultimately about how we all have regrets and that the credo ‘no regrets’ is not only untrue but silly.

The book itself is an enjoyable read, more one to make you think than maybe take actionable skills from but thought provoking nonetheless.

But this isn’t a book review or anything of the sort, it just triggered an idea in my mind whilst reading it and thought it would be worthwhile dipping in to it briefly.

Throughout the book, it has in it comments from people from around the world who were involved in a study the author conducted from his website that asked them about their regrets.

It’s from these comments that I get most of my thoughts for for this post.

The first and most prominent is the regrets of things not done.

This is all throughout the book and he does mention this too so I don’t want to take anything from Daniel Pinks work and lessen the enjoyment of the read for you but the biggest regret that stands out to me is worrying what people thought of them.

Not doing something for fear of judgement

For fear of failing.

For embarrassment.

They regretted not doing something. Not taking that chance, much, much more than taking the risk and it not working.

The what ifs are very prevalent in many of the comments and you can see how it causes many of the regrets as they live wondering what if.

I’ve said it thousands of times, I use the Lao Tzu quote way too often, this one

“Care what other people think and you will always be their prisoner”

I coach regularly about it, but if you want to achieve success, You have to let the thoughts of others opinions about you pass you by.

If you knew how seldom they thought of you or how much they cared you wouldn’t give it a second thought.

Your life will continue regardless of their opinion so make moves to achieve what you like and waste no time judging others.

The second point I noticed that really stood out was the complete victim mindset prevalent in the messages the author received.

There were legit regrets and ones I’m sure would cause someone to take action against them once they realised it was something they wanted to change if they were afforded the chance, as that to me would be the whole point of the regret, that is where it’s power lays, in the opportunity to create a different outcome through altered actions.

Take for example, I regret treating someone mean, I will be sure to act kinder to everybody I meet. Simplified yes but you get my meaning. Regret turns in to an action and we can erase the regret and use it as a tool to improve.

So I came across a couple that stand out in my mind and I do t have the book with me as I wrote this so it’s from memory but there is one from a girl who says how sad that she didn’t learn an instrument. She says how beautiful the sound of music is and even if it isn’t to be a profession what a tool to have it is, the ability to read music.

Now I wholeheartedly agree. I started learning the piano later in my life so I understand the enjoyment gained from the ability to read music.

Now, I expected this comment to be from an elderly woman or man as I was reading. By elderly I mean in their 90’s with arthritic fingers that don’t move. Maybe then at a push, there would be justification for not learning how to play, maybe then there isn’t a way to alter the regret. But then I came across their age

Seventeen. This girl was seventeen and ‘regretted’ not playing or learning a musical instrument.

The way she went on about how magical music was you’d think she’d rush at the chance to learn but instead would choose to say how any excuse stopped her opportunity so she could stay feeling this way all her life.

That’s no regret, to me, that’s victimhood.

An opportunity to feel sorry for oneself over nothing.

That’s not even the worst one that springs to mind.

There was another about a gentleman who regrets buying a packet of cigarettes back in 1999 before a stressful business meeting or something. It led to him smoking twenty cigarettes a day and oh how he regrets it as he still smokes now!

He still smokes now.

You can’t regret the action if you’re still doing it surely?

Take charge of your life and decide the actions you want. Own them.

I know quitting smoking can be difficult. I used to smoke twenty a day until I decided one day I’d never touch them again.

I regretted smoking, so I took control and did the next best thing to never starting, I stopped. and never touched one again.

Regrets are meant to make us improve not wallow in self pity.

Embrace your regrets if you have any and let them empower you.

Like the great Dr Wayne Dyer said it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

Take your regrets and use them to be better.

1 comentario

Chris Green
Chris Green
04 jun 2023

Hi Tom

The paragraph relating to smoking trigged a thought.

Sat in the sun in my back garden complete silence apart from my neighbours waterfall tipping water into his fish pond

I regret having to stop smoking because I regret ,ever starting!

But that was many years ago , but it came to the forefront of my thoughts 🙏🙏

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