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Book Recommendations

The Power of Regret by Daniel Pink

August 2022
— Reading Time: 3 minutes

Daniel Pink is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Drive, To Sell is Human and When. Pink uses the largest sampling of attitudes about regret ever conducted, his own World Regret Survey – which has collected regrets from more than 16,000 people in 105 countries – to identify the four core regrets that most people have. By understanding what people regret the most, we can understand what they value the most. We need this book: it is so important for all of us who recognise only too well, “the stomach-churning feeling that the present would be better and the future brighter, if only you hadn’t chosen so poorly, decided so wrongly, or acted so stupidly in the past.” To read Pink’s words that this is not a rare, or unique to the individual emotion, but normal, universal, and integral to being human, is such a salve to all of us and potentially life-changing to some of us.

Pink neatly flips the often seen, ‘no regrets’ mantra, as foreshadowed in his sub-title, “How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward”, with his radical reframing. Regret provides us with an opportunity to learn from our past and “it needn’t drag us down,” indeed, “it can lift us up.” Authoritatively and in detail, he examines the four core regrets:

  1. Foundation regrets – when we see our “failure to be responsible, conscientious or prudent.”
  2. Boldness Regrets – “we are much more likely to regret the chances we didn’t [his italics] take than the chances we did.”
  3. Moral regrets – “when we behave poorly or compromise our belief in our own goodness.”
  4. Connection regrets – “when we neglect the people who help establish our own sense of wholeness.”

We are given the antidotes to regret in three science-based steps, a way to transform them into a positive force for working smarter and living better:

  1. Self-disclosure: Relive and Relieve; tell others about your regret; admission clears the air.
  2. Self-compassion: Normalize and Neutralize; treat yourself the way you would a friend.
  3. Self-distancing: analyze and strategize; put some distance – time or space – between you and the regret.

There is so much that resonates with us at my manifesto in this book! Apart from the aforementioned features, we will finish by making mention of Pink’s statement regarding the power of writing or telling your regrets; “If our lives are the stories we tell ourselves, regret reminds us that we have a dual role. We are both the authors and the actors. We can shape the plot but not fully. We can toss aside the script but not always. We live at the intersection of free will and circumstance.”

In your coaching session with my manifesto, we witness the power of you telling your story and seeing it in writing in your personal manifesto. We urge you to take up the part of the story that is within your control, to intentionally shape the part that is available to you; to shape your narrative within the framework of your personal choices.

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