You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.
–C.S. Lewis

Regrets are part of our lives. 

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have regrets about some decision, some choice, some part of their life. They might be minor, or they might be significant. 

As a pastor, I’ve heard, perhaps more than many, people’s regrets voiced and wept over. I’ve listened as people expressed their regret over their decision to marry someone who turned out not to be the man or woman they thought. I’ve listened as people expressed their regret over parenting choices they made. I’ve listened as people expressed their regret over career choices, words spoken in anger, and rash decisions that changed their life. 

Regrets are not uncommon. Even among leaders.

I’ve listened as leaders expressed regret over a leadership decision that they made. “How I wish I could go back and have a redo on that one!” “If I could just have that one to do again.” “I would make such a different choice if I could.” “I had no idea how that decision would wreck me.”

How can a leader lead beyond regrets?

Here are three ways.

  1. Process the decision. Reflect. Journal. Pray. Determine what led to the decision point and why you made the decision you made.  
  2. Determine what you would do differently next time. If you had the chance to change the decision, what would you choose? Realize that hindsight is nearly always 20/20, and we don’t get the benefit of that often beforehand, but this situation or something similar might arise again. What will you do differently next time?
  3. Give yourself grace. I know, that one’s harder for most leaders. You give others grace where you would never give it to yourself. You hold yourself to a higher standard! The bar is higher for leaders! I get that. But guess what: you are not perfect. Shocker, right? And yet often we speak to ourselves with that bar of perfection in mind, denigrating ourselves in words we would never use to speak to our team members.  

Leading beyond regrets means learning to process the decision; determining what you would do and will do differently, and giving yourself grace. 

If you learn to do that, you will grow as a leader. You’ll find that your team will respond positively to that growth. And your organization will be better led as a results. 

Remember that Lewis quote above: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Start here. And change the ending. 

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