Regret is a powerful emotion. It is woven into the fabric of many of our life stories. 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 foster depression, anxiety, and indecision years after the event has passed.
If you are a leader, your 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. We can’t ignore the consequences of our poor judgment or lack of discipline.
However, those same choices or mistakes don’t need to prevent us from pursuing current dreams and opportunities. There is little to be gained by living in the past or allowing those memories to distort one’s view of the future.
Forgiveness certainly plays a role in this recovery process but so does a willingness to acknowledge some positives and lessons learned from the very situations that are causing the feelings of regret.
Leaders who model healthy perspectives about past regrets will encourage their colleagues and direct reports to do the same. Keep your situation in perspective by sharing your stories, seeking forgiveness or making amends when necessary. Learn how to be an empathic listener to the regret others may need to express.
Imagine a workplace where past mistakes can be redeemed, where stories of regret can become teaching tools, and where judgment is replaced with love and acceptance?
I’m personally grateful for the amazing opportunities I have been given to learn and grow as a leader. Many persons have taken risks over the years by placing their confidence in my abilities and offering helpful advice or encouragement. I have tried to do the same for others.
Is there anything on your list of regrets that needs healing?
Can you forgive yourself for that mistake you may have made or the wrong path you chose?
It’s time to move beyond regret and guilt; to become more attuned with what is most important now and what matters to those you serve today.
That decision could be the key to avoiding any future regret.
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