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Caught up with my friend Ben Issa over lunch today, and the conversation turned to the choices we make while we traverse our career paths.

While we discussed what we had done over the years, the people we had worked with and the successes (and disappointments) we had faced, I mentioned that there were some things I regretted doing in hindsight. Things I had said, decisions I had made, choices I had implemented. Some had a small, almost inconsequential impact at the time but I still remember them as subtly shaping my life, while others looked catastrophic but in the long run eventuated to nothing.

Ben, however, reminded me of a better perspective:

“Don’t regret anything. Just learn from it and move on.”

Wise words.

Regret is a negative emotion. It just holds you back, pulls you down and makes you wallow in the past.

Learning means accepting your mistakes, acknowledging your shortcomings, and internalising the wisdom to not repeat them.

This is, in fact, also what Stephen Covey advocates:

“Stop wasting time regretting what you did a year ago. Start doing what you have to do now, so that in a year’s time you won’t regret what you did today.”

When we’re in the grind, we often lose sight of the most basic principles of success, and rather than learn from our mistakes, we only dwell on them. Sometimes it just takes a meaningful chat with a friend to recalibrate our compass.

Thanks Ben. Always a pleasure talking to you.