Regret vs. Refinement (The difference between SHOULD and CAN)

Musing for:

Regret vs. Refinement

Through much of my early leadership career, I was afraid to make mistakes. That fear prompted hypervigilance, overthinking, and what we commonly call “analysis paralysis.”

I’m the kind of person who wants to be successful. And if you’re following me on social media and paying attention to the things I post twice each week, then I imagine you’re that kind of person, too.

For those of us who want to be successful, We tend to be attracted to knowing what we “should” do. We want to follow the plan, the proven process. And when we don’t see a clear path, we get nervous.

I’ve since learned that what I feared was regret. I feared having to face the question, “What should I have done differently?

Inherent in that question is the sense of being wrong. Not just factually wrong, but possibly even morally or ethically wrong, because my actions, my choices, led to an undesirable result.

Over time, I began to learn how to change my perspective, though.

Instead of focusing on the past and asking, “What should I have done differently?” I started shifting my attention to the future and asking, “What can I do differently next time?”

Feedback, whether it’s experiential from your own results or verbal or written from a colleague or observer, is crucial for growth.

Learning a better way to do something doesn’t mean you were wrong to try things the way you did. Often, trying something ineffective is the only way, or at least the most efficient way, to learn the skills to do it better.

So next time you can’t see a clear path to success, let go of the fear of finding out that you “should have done” something different. Instead anticipate the experience of learning what you “can do” differently next time.

And if that feels easier said than done, let’s talk.

Visit for a complimentary conversation to uncover what else might be getting in your way.

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