Can we just start by saying how much we love this book? We’ve written previously about its author, Daniel Pink, who is famous for so many things, particularly his expertise around the science of timing and motivation.
His latest book is all about regret, which is such a great (yet challenging) topic to get your head around. Regret comes up a lot in coaching. People often talk about regrets linked to dying or self-sabotage. For some people, a life without regrets is the ultimate goal. For others, a regret-free life sounds really boring; they want to mess up, make mistakes and learn.
In The power of regret: how looking backward moves us forward, Pink is an advocate for the second option, arguing that a life without regrets can actually be dangerous. Having collected regrets from more than 19,000 people in 105 countries (part of his World Regret Survey), he believes there are four main types – and each of them affect us, for better or worse, in different ways.
First, there are regrets linked to our foundations, aka the fundamental areas of our lives, like education, health and finances. When we get them right, we thrive; when we let them slide, we enter regret-ville.
Next, there are regrets that stem from our boldness (or lack thereof); whether we choose to chase or ignore opportunities. According to Pink, being bold and taking risks leads to less regret. (This aligns with research that tells us people are more likely to be haunted by inaction, rather than action.)
Then you’ve got moral regrets: these come from the occasions when you do something ‘wrong’ like lying, stealing, cheating – quite possibly knowing, in that moment, that you were betraying your own sense of ‘goodness’.
And finally, there are regrets associated with our connections; the significant relationships in our lives. The parent we didn’t say all the things to before it was too late; the friendship we neglected; the sibling we didn’t speak to for years. Regret in this area, Pink says, can lead to a deep and abiding sense of loss.
By understanding our regrets, Pink believes we can harness their power to make smarter decisions, improve performance and, basically, live a better life. It really is such a positive and empowering take on regrets which, let’s be honest, have developed a bad name for themselves over the years.
Here’s to regrets! (Ideally the helpful ones please.)
– The Coach Place Global
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