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Emotional intelligence: Turn regret into a positive force

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Research from the University of Victoria in Canada shows that most people hold regret in high regard, partly because it helps them make sense of things and fix them. In a weird way, it also feels good.

Advances in neuroscience show that we learn better with an emotional connection. Regret may help us grow.

Three guidelines on using regret:

1. Given that hindsight is 20/20, consider what Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Use regret to sharpen your decisions, letting what happened point the way to what you need to do next.

2. Balance regret and risk. Instead of retreating to “safer” options, choose a course that will maximize your chances of accomplishing top priorities. Regret may help you better perceive what risks are worth taking.

3. Don’t let regret morph into worry or depression. It’s good to know you’re not the only “idiot” running the show. Pull in your personal board of directors, your closest family members and most trusted friends to give you perspective.

Remember that the most enduring leaders remain resolute through times of trouble.

— Adapted from “Go Ahead, Have Regrets,” Michael Craig Miller, Harvard Business Review.

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