Daniel Pink: The Surprising Power Of Regret

Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.”

These famous lyrics from Frank Sinatra’s classic song, “My Way,” assert the idea that it’s very easy to recover & move on from the bad choices we make in life.

But in 2020, Daniel Pink launched the “World Regret Survey,” & asked 15,000 people in 105 countries, “How often do you look back on life & wish you had done things differently? And 81 percent of the respondents said regret is at least an occasional part of their lives with one-in-five saying they feel regret all the time. Just one percent said they never lament their past.

While letting ourselves be overwhelmed & even immobilized by regret is unquestionably bad for us, in his new bestseller, “The Power Of Regret,” Pink says repressing our regrets consigns us to making the same mistakes again & again. In his words “the trick is to not banish our bad feelings, but to acknowledge & use them for learning & improvement.”

When we think about regrets, they usually fall into one of four core areas:

“Foundation Regrets:” We regret not getting enough education or for not having made better choices about preparing for our future. “If only I’d done the work.”

“Boldness Regrets:” Looking back, we see ourselves as having played it safe or not seizing on opportunities when they presented themselves. “If only I’d taken that risk?”

“Moral Regrets:” We remember hurting another person by a betrayal of some kind. “If only I’d done the right thing.”

“Connection Regrets:” The largest category of regrets arise from relationships that have come undone or that remain incomplete. “If only I’d reached out.”

Through his research, Pink has discovered that – as long as we’re willing to look at them & re-experience the pain of them – we can remedy a lot of our regrets, heal them & benefit from them: If we reckon with our regrets properly, they can sharpen our decisions & improve our future performance.”

In this truly wonderful discussion, Daniel shares many informed ways we can optimize our regrets & vault ourselves forward to a happier, more productive & principled life.

The truth is that life is a journey full of pleasures & pains, To live it well & fully means learning from every bit of it, including the mistakes, & moving forward. The legendary Daniel Pink shows us how to accomplish just that.

By Mark C. Crowley

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century which has been taught in 11 American universities. He is a global speaker, leadership consultant and thought leader on the topics of workplace culture and employee engagement.