5 Regrets Solved & 10 Steps for Better Relationships

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Success is about moving forward. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Often, it is hard to move forward, we have regrets that hold us back. Sometimes regret can ruin us, as the legendary sales trainer, Victor Antonio teaches:

“Regret is fertile ground for negativity and pessimism to set in, which only begets more regret, which can only be remedied by letting go of the past and taking decisive action.”

Dave Kerpen, the CEO of Likable Local, wrote an article for Inc. that shares 17 motivational quotes that help us let go.  My favorite from his list:

“The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.”Oprah Winfrey

Other times regret can be used as a way to help us remember the actions we took that produced results we did not desire. This regret can be used as a tool to motivate us to make different choices going forward. We can learn from our own experiences, but we can also learn from the experiences of others.

A now famous Australian nurse, Bonnie Ware,  spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying advice. These insights received so much attention that she put her notes into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. The five most common regrets are:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

All 5 of the regrets revolve around relationships. Whether the relationships are personal or professional – how we define ourselves in relation to and with others is the biggest determinant of our happiness (or lack thereof).  The more time I spend with those I care about, the more fulfilled I feel.

In the The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk , the author explains how important relationships really are:

“…no relationships should be taken for granted. They are what life is all about, the whole point. How we cultivate our relationships is often the greatest determinant of the type of life we get to live. Business is no different. Real business isn’t done in board meetings; it’s done over a half-eaten plate of buffalo wings at the sports bar, or during the intermission of a Broadway show. It’s done through an enthusiastic greeting, with an unexpected recommendation, or by offering up your cab when it’s raining. It happens in the small personal interactions that allow us to prove to each other who we are and what we believe in…”

The best way to build relationships is to help other people. Helping other people is the only true secret to sustainable success.

Adam Grant, Wharton’s top-rate professor who wrote Give and Take, explains that the givers are the ones who give freely to others and thereby creating the most rewarding relationships. From his book:

“The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade.”

“This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

Adam Grant’s message coincides with one of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Helping others, spending time with those we love, and cultivating true and pure relationships without expectations is how we can develop fulfilling relationships in life and in business. This in turn helps us to maximize our potential. Spending time developing relationships is what will create stronger bonds. We need to spend time with those people we care about.

Some good advice I have found for building professional relationships comes from John Hall and an article he wrote for Forbes. John provides 10 actions that lead to building effective professional relationships: (most can also be applied to personal relationships too!)

  1. Sharing knowledge
  2. Finding out what’s valuable to them
  3. Sharing your resources
  4. Making them aware of an opportunity
  5. Giving them transparent feedback
  6. Being a brand advocate
  7. Giving introductions
  8. Volunteering your time
  9. Recognizing them
  10. Giving gifts 

Time is precious. How we spend our time matters. Remembering the past and learning from the experiences we gained is valuable in guiding our future actions. Letting go of the pain and regrets of the past is vital to future progression. In order to live life to the fullest we must focus on our relationships.

– Mareo McCracken

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