Regret is a powerful emotion. We wonder, sometimes years later, what might have happened if we had chosen a different career path, listened to the advice of a parent or mentor, married someone else, or selected our words more carefully. The guilt that may accompany these choices can promote depression, anxiety, and indecision.
A leader's list of regrets might be pretty extensive. Anyone in a position of power or influence makes daily decisions that may not satisfy those they serve or reflect the highest standards of conduct. Words carry meaning, values can be compromised, and personal ego may cloud discernment.
Those same choices or mistakes don't need to stop us from pursuing current dreams and opportunities. I used to second guess my decision not to earn a four-year college degree. Yet, it did not prevent me from holding executive positions in several organizations, serving in volunteer leadership roles, or successfully launched my own business. I have honed my talents and skills through the advice of mentors, extensive reading, practical on-the-job experience, and self-discipline.
These outcomes haven't kept me from wondering how an MBA might have impacted my life. It is human nature for us to question, wonder, and worry. Regret often prevents us from fully appreciating our present circumstances.
Perhaps my story can encourage others who carry lingering regret from their past. It's time to redirect your emotional energies by celebrating who you are now, not wondering what may have transpired if you hadn't abandoned your dream?
I'm grateful for the amazing opportunities I have been given to learn and grow as a leader. Many persons have risked placing their confidence in my abilities and offering advice or encouragement. I have tried to do the same.
Is there anything on your list of regrets that needs healing? Can you forgive yourself for that mistake you made or the wrong path you chose? It's time to move beyond regret and guilt; to become more attuned with what is important now and what matters to those you serve today.
The decision to abandon regret might be the key to avoiding any future “if only” moments.