The Regret Minimizer

Question: As you look back on your life, where do you wish you’d been a little braver, trusted in yourself more, and been less cautious in the chances you took?

 

Book question derived from: Life on Fire (Fiction)

 

 

Answer: There is a scene in Life on Fire where the main character Brooklyn is considering passing on a position. Dante, the guy she was seeing at the time had to talk her into being a little braver. “Don’t limit your ability to fly. Life is about taking calculated risk. You weigh the factors and decide if you’re going to take the leap of faith.” Unfortunately, I didn’t begin to learn that until later in life. There were a lot of times where I should have been a little braver, trusted in myself and been less cautious in the chances I took.

 

I wished I would been a little bit braver in exploring an opportunity to dance. Most people don’t know that my dance teacher wanted me to take a dance internship in New York after I graduated from college. I had an entire list of why I wasn’t qualified to take the internship. I was not brave enough to attempt to see if I could build a life doing what I loved. Instead I became that girl who spent most Saturdays on the dance floor of one club or another. It took me a while to recognize that I allowed fear to sideline me. Fear that, because I didn’t fit the image of an ideal dancer, I would not succeed. Dancing for a living may not have been the route for me, but I will never know for sure since I allowed fear to make the decision for me.

 

I wished I trusted myself more in the area of business communication. My second offer coming out of college was to manage a new project for my school. I had the talent to do all the footwork, but every professor commented that I needed to work on my communication skill. While I’ll admit my personal communication skills were poor. I don’t talk about the important stuff even when it is required and necessary. My business communication was better. I spoke only when I had something to contribute to the conversation. I felt no need to impress people with extra words or additional comments just to be seen.

 

Unfortunately, I adopted others belief that I had poor communication skills which became my truth. I allowed it to limit my success and declined opportunities to go to the next level on the job. It increased my dislike of talking and caused me to avoid speaking even more. Yet, I found myself sitting in room with top level executive and 40% of them were like me only utilizing their communications skills when necessary. I realize I’d done myself a disservice. Due to my belief that I was a terrible communicator, I began over explaining trying to compensate for a lack of skill and avoiding opportunities. However, I could have been one of those directors in that room who were not big talker but utilized their skills when necessary. I recognize my interpretation of what was said was to blame. I never asked how they thought I should improvement my communications skills. As I continued to get those comments on my communications skills, I begin to understand what they all consistently said was they wanted me to talk more. Understanding that helped me start to enhance my life and stop passing on so many opportunities.

 

I wish I’d been less cautious in the chances I took, with regards to the certain relationships that passed through my life. I allowed negative relationships in the past to cause me to be very guarded when developing new relationships. I have passed on some people that could have been great friends or contributed greatly to my life. But, my inner circle was on lock down like it was Fort Knox. In college, I was fighting for a limited edition friendship and rejecting a long term one. My extremely cautious attitude on allowing new people into my life made it extremely hard on the people I met that wanted to get to know me. Most of them were limited editions, but there were few if, I’d fully appreciate relationships instead being overly cautious, could have been long term. Even limited edition people entered my life for one of two reasons, to contribute lessons or deposit blessings. If I missed those lessons, I end up learning them with a long term person making our relationships a classroom for something that I should have already learned. Now with all that said I do believe in being cautious, but not overly cautious to the point I pass up on an opportunity that was supposed to prepare me for what’s next in my life. Being a little braver and less cautious allows me to fully explore the situation. It doesn’t mean I will always make the best decision but it does mean that I live fully in the moment. It’s a regret minimizer.

 

I met some very successful people who claim to have no regrets. Yet, when no asked directly about regrets, they spoke candidly about their missteps and things they wished they did differently. I had to learn that since regrets are considered a negative, they had to train themselves to reframe the way the spoke about it. When people say they have no regrets, it doesn’t mean the absence of regrets, but that they have utilized those experiences to enhance their lives. When we are a little braver, trust ourselves more and are little less cautious in the chances we take, we minimize our regrets. It is hard to say you regrets things that you did your best with even when they don’t work out as expected. Or when you’ve learned so much from the experience. However, we can’t allow our gifts to become buried under regrets. People whose verbiage around regret is negative are usually too busy kicking themselves in the behind for something they cannot change to find the lesson or blessing that could enhance their life.

 

When we didn’t give our best to a situation, we run the risk of regretting things to the point where it incapacitates our dreams. Being a little braver, trusting yourself more and being less cautious is about attempting to put your best foot forward despite your fears. Even if things don’t work out as planned we cannot regret being the best person we could be in that window of time. If failure paves the road to success then regrets are the stops along the way to prevent us from making similar mistakes. While I know it will be a challenge, every day I will challenge myself to minimize the regrets by being a little braver, trust myself more and be a little less cautious than I was the day before. Life should not be defined by past mistakes but can be refined by them. The decision which it will be is completely up to you.

 

Summary of Lessons:

  • Never let fear be the deciding factor.
  • Don’t adopt people’s negative comments or opinions of you as if they are your own
  • Be willing to ask for clarification. It helps prevent misinterpretation of what was said.
  • Being braver and less cautious doesn’t mean you will always make the best decision. It simply means you’re willing to fully consider opportunities before rejecting them.
  • Regrets don’t have to be a negative if they shape your ability to change and prevents you from making similar missteps.

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