Six years. I know it’s been six years because so many of my friends and colleagues have been sending me congratulatory messages. It’s one of the best things about social media in our industry. We see alerts on each other all the time and can send messages, questions or even just smiley faces.
I was still surprised though. Six years seems a long time…but then again so much has happened and I have learned so much…six years seems like the blink of an eye.
I know I have learned so much. I know this every time I look back at crucial moments and review my decisions with the benefit of hindsight.
The conclusion? What was I thinking? Not every time…but often.
Events seldom transpire as predicted. Outcomes are sometimes better than hoped, expected or predicted…sometimes they are not. But at the precise moment I made any key decision – I made what I was certain was the best decision I could.
And this explains the importance of the learning moment; the opportunity to look back – based on what I know now – and to assess whether I would have made a different decision.
And the answer is frequently yes. So frequent that I have concluded this is a good thing.
Today I know more than I did a year ago. I have learned more – more about our business, our industry, our people, our science – and more about myself. It’s no surprise then that when I look back I recognise I would make a different decision. This is good news. This is evidence of personal learning and growth.
I also have a second philosophy to my personal learning – no regrets.
I developed this philosophy when my old company decided to close their site in the UK. A massive decision which at that time – some seven years ago – they were certain was the right decision…
This decision impacted me, my friends and my family. Many colleagues and friends reached out to me. “Wow, I am so sorry” was a common opening. “I bet you wish you…” was the next most common.
I knew I needed to interject at that moment…I had to prevent the rest of that sentence…even though I knew the sentiment and the intent was totally and completely positive. ‘I bet you wish you had left sooner’. ‘I bet you wish you had relocated to the USA’. ‘I bet you wish you had…’
No. No was always the answer. No is always the answer. No regrets about any decision I make. No regrets…provided I am certain that my decisions were the best I could make at the time I made them.
Yes it’s true I could have decided to move to the USA. And yes it’s true I could have decided to move companies in the UK. But when those opportunities appeared I decided not to. I decided I wanted to stay. We wanted to stay. It was always a positive, deliberate decision taking account of everything I knew and everything was aware of. No regrets.
And so many wonderful, amazing and unexpected things happened to me and to my family (my family at work and my family at home) because of those decisions. It’s not possible to have any regrets. It’s not right to wish for something different.
And it’s pointless anyway. None of us can go back in time and change anything anyway. Any time regretting or wishing we could do so is time wasted.
Time wasted looking backwards is time we are not learning and – worse still – it’s time when we are not influencing what will happen next.