Regret Minimization

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I recently heard this term and I love it. “Regret Minimization” It doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes along the way, it means trying to make the best decisions to minimize regret. It’s a little more forgiving than living without regret which I think is impossible if you are human, or at least if you are Heather Poduska, because I put my foot in my mouth more often than I’d care to think about.

However, I’d like you to think about this phrase when it comes to your business. If you are an entrepreneur, you are going to make mistakes. You are traversing new territory. Even if you are diligent and thorough there will be times when you zig when you should have zagged. It’s OK! Although we’d all like to avoid those situations, the fact remains they will occur. The question is how are you going to deal with it?

When you live with regret, you live in the past. You live in a world of would-a, could-a, should-a. It is a vicious cycle. You beat yourself up, you lose confidence and you get scared about moving forward lest you make the same mistake again and risk the fear of humiliation. Even though it does sting when we have those fallible moments, and we do feel regret, it is not productive to live in that space. So how do you break the cycle?

The first thing you need to do is see your mistake as an opportunity. When you make mistakes it opens your eyes to the things you still need to learn. Sometimes you think you’ve conquered something and you don’t even realize you are not as proficient at it as you need to be until an unexpected challenge comes your way and calls you to the mat. The mistake gives you the opportunity to take the action you need to do better the next time. This often happens with technology. There have been many times where I thought I knew what I was doing and then ended up deleting something important or accidentally sending something unfinished out into the netherworld of the web unintentionally. Live and learn.

Another thing to minimize regret is to show remorse and take action to repair the damage when you do make a mistake. We all screw up in our business sometimes, but many times those mistakes can actually be fixed or forgiven. First, you must acknowledge your error and then take real and speedy action to minimize or fix the damage. Most clients will respond well if call you own bad and take real steps towards reparation.

Most importantly, you need to forgive yourself. I know it’s hard because we all want to be kind and on top of our game, but one way that helps is by vowing to do better next time. Sometimes you cannot go back and undo the deed, but you can use the knowledge from lessons learned to create better circumstances in the future. If for example, you create an unfavorable circumstance with a client and they leave, you may not be able to get that client back on good terms, but you can learn from your error and make sure you have a better experience with following clients. You pay forward your lessons.

There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to people or business. However, there is such a thing as integrity. Having integrity with yourself first and foremost makes regret minimization much easier. Living and working with integrity means knowing you are doing your best, learning from your mistakes and doing what you can to minimize or fix your mistakes so you can get on with things and start having fun again. Not having fun in you business would be something to truly regret!