Perhaps, at every stage of life, none of us is satisfied with our status in relation to the various goals, we set for ourselves to achieve. Acquisition of a few laurels is not measured as success but is perceived as transitory satisfaction. For some the quest remains unquenchable till they hit their date, when boots have to be hung-forcibly or even voluntarily. Those who lack the maturity to handle and accept that not everything can be done in a life time usually react with a deep sense of regret. I have read of many politicians, including some of statesman stature, who either wrote or quoted Robert Frost’s words, “….I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep…” Remorse and regret fill their remaining numbered days.
Those faced with a barrage of non-achievement are a pretty tough case. These mostly don’t blame themselves for falling short, but they squarely place the blame on others. The onus is placed at the door step of the organisation for either treating them unfairly or for being a prejudiced entity; or it is the supervisor, who was the pain, placing impediments on the path of their progress.
The consequences we face in life are mostly of our own making, hence if any ill be-falls upon actions, then instead of seeking crutches to land the consequences of their ill-conceived actions, it is better to assume full responsibility. We make our own beds to lie upon. There is a Chinese saying; when one falls, it is not one’s foot that is to blame. A hundred pounds of sorrow pays not an ounce of debt. Repentance without alternatives of renewed actions is a virtue of only the foolish.
Nobody has in human history been able to call back yesterday; what’s done can very rarely be undone. So there is as a result a continuous hunt to blame forces outside of oneself. It is difficult to find a failure, who would not have an excuse on offer. Short pleasures in life are backed by long regrets. But does it help? In “Tempest”, William Shakespeare, says, “Let us not burden our remembrance, with a heaviness that’s gone”. It is critical to have an attitude that all our pains are our very own creation. Blaming others or the environment doesn’t bring about any positive change in any individual. At best, he/she can qualify to be “professional whiners”- I have encountered so many of these species, in my career. They do no introspection, but instead dig into others traits, to highlight the negativity, they think they received. There is no recognition of personal inadequacies; it is only others who are just incomplete, men and women.
If any admits into their canoe of existence, failure, then knowest that only one person has to be holding the oars - failure or yourself. If you hand over the charge of the canoe, then the results are not of your doing. One of the two(failure or yourself) will need to be jettisoned, failing which the canoe wouldn’t move, because the oars are working in opposite directions. Likely hood is, it will sink.
Regret, doesn’t help; taking responsibility will do. The approach to undertaking ventures must remain within the safe ambit of, when in doubt, leave it out. One has to take the bull by the horn; assume full responsibility and be decisive. Hesitation and endless deliberations lead to losses. The longer you stare at a problem, the less is its possibility to getting resolved. To the resolute person, no task is insurmountable.
Architect your fortune, do not hire others to build your career. As it is said, “every man is the son of his works”. Responsibility devolves the need to be bold, without being adventurous. Sometime, our enhanced sense of cautiousness becomes the restraining factor, in embarking for newer pastures or even different ways of thinking -- no cat with its paws in velvet gloves has ever caught any mice. Deploy your inherent strengths.
Sharing responsibility makes each of us more pro-active and bold. Possession of a sense of responsibility is the loveliest of virtues. Once custody is taken of fear, no resolve should be made to fail. If being brought into this world is not the responsibility of individuals, then atleast what we do of it, should be our responsibility. Churchill remarks, “The price of greatness is responsibility”.
Responsibility to self is not critical. Irresponsibility towards oneself certainly is; for it is one major cause of decline in man’s zeal and quest for improvements. Privileges cannot be had without a sense of duty and care towards the obligations we owe to the world, outside of our existence. A host of people, ranging from family to colleagues at workplace have some or more forms of expectations. These once recognised will propel towards positive action for the over-all good of the institution and the self.
Responsibility is considered by many as a detachable burden that can easily be shifted to the shoulders of luck, fate, fortune and even divinity or even one’s neighbour for all the calamities that may descend upon a person. Dysfunctionalities are our own creation and hence of our responsibility too.
If feelings of regret lands any into dungeons of self-pity, avoid looking back; regret in my view is only good when it helps us to do sometimes the same work, but with different result, that is the outcome of experience gained. We must push ourselves to convert regrets into analysis of who, when, where, how were factors responsible for not achieving the desired results. Merely recounting what could have been, would have been, etc are essentially time wasters.
Those who have inherent capacity to generate internalised inspiration, will invariably use the emotion of regret, not for punishing themselves, but to identify and take upon responsibility for the results, followed with a resolute mind to alter the future outcome that is adequately backed by quality in-put into their effort.
Life, inclusive of career should be free of regrets of past and must be led with a positively inclined attitude of best is yet to come.
The writer is a banker and freelance columnist