Regrets, Do You Have a Few?

Have you ever worked on a project, presentation or proposal whereby after it was completed, wished you had more time for incubating ideas or just time in general to properly complete? More importantly, wished you had spoken-up or reached out to the right people to make it better before the project was launched? I know I have, and ended up with the opposite feeling of why Jeff Bezos started Amazon: “Regret Minimization Framework”. He basically didn’t want to look back in his life and have many regrets. And back then, being a part of this Internet thing, to some, looked the same as investing in muscle pants in the 90’s (who knew that they only looked good when rocked with a well-coiffed mullet). But the framework that drove Bezos to start a near $3 billion-dollar business is simple:

Bezo’s Regret Minimization Framework he adopted

And what about you? Did you ever have regret that you didn’t take any action that would ultimately help all involved: you, your colleagues, partners, and ultimately, the company’s bottom line?

And how about those projects, presentations and proposals that you, your team or whole company had to revisit, after a launch, release, or an event? Did you learn anything or did you keep your mouth shut while you contribute to the Redundant Department of Redundancy in rebuilding, revamping and revising? Or perhaps you have your masochistic ways and enjoy the clean-up work with your bitterness and angst seeping through your body language, words and actions while wiping-up the mess. 

Would things have been any different had you stepped in and been an advocate for everyone’s time? Could an email, talking to some key people or speaking up in meetings change the course of humankind?  Even if nobody listened to you, you would have at least achieved Regret Minimization. And Bezos would be proud – no, actually he would say, “hell yeah, sista!”. (And then you could say, “I told you so” to those you communicated to…nah! (But it would feel pretty good, right? 😉 ).

Yesterday Is Gone…Or Could Be Gone

When Sir Paul McCartney woke with a melody that came to him in a dream, the only lyrics he could put to it was:

Scrambled eggs,
Oh my baby how I love your legs,
Not as much as I love scrambled eggs…

Sir Paul McCartney
Top Beatle

And that’s all he had for months and months. The song was considered a running joke between bandmates (and if you don’t know who I’m talking about yet, it’s The Beatles 😉 ) Each time the band got in the studio, Sir McCartney tried to convince everyone that he really wanted to record it. Once McCartney finally put together some solid lyrics and replaced “Scrambled eggs” with “Yesterday”, he was able to convince his bandmates and producer George Martin to record the song, which he did solo along with a string quartet. It was finally released in the US as a single in September, 1965. And yet the song was so different from other works by the Beatles that the band members vetoed the release of the song as a single in the United Kingdom.

Despite the differences, Yesterday became musical history and has even been voted as the best song of the 20th century in some circles. It also went on to be covered over 3000 times (as per this writing); those including great artists such as: Elvis, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, Liberace, and Joan Baez. 

So bravo for Sir McCartney for pushing his work.

Do you have a “Yesterday” that you could have pushed to make great?

Some Tools For Your Utility Belt

Here are three tips to enable you to be part of the solution and help contribute to better outcomes when you see an opportunity to share:

  • DON’T THINK. ACT :
    Former NASA-rocket-designer-turned-leading-time-management-expert, Peter Turla said something in his course that I took from him years ago that stuck with me: “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t stare at it too long.” (Peter changed “swallow” to “kiss” to alleviate the thought of consuming a frog). This Mark Twain quote accompanied a rubber frog that Peter gave each of us. I kept it on my desk as a constant reminder to “Just Do It”. And it was an effective tool that kept on giving. So if you have something to say, just say it. And if you think it will come out wrong, you can always apologize to make it right. Just get it out. This is one atrophied muscle that needs to be pumped.
  • DON’T ASSUME EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING :
    That’s the principle of Social Proof : Taking on a particular mode of social behavior that is loaded with assuming that everyone else knows what they’re doing (and they typically don’t). Consequently, you stop trusting your gut instincts. But by knowing this, you’ll likely ask questions and bring things up, which may also help others who have the same questions and concerns.
  • CHANGE SEATS :
    People get used to each other in a setting or meeting cadence, where they observe and learn behaviours of them. These basic survival traits don’t take long to get solidified so they can mentally prepare themselves for their surroundings. Break that. Change your usual seat in the conference room, sit in an alert and engaged manner and actively choose to be present to respond or react to subjects that yearn for your amazing insight. Break the team’s solidified folkways and let them know you are there to make a difference.

Don’t Be Scrambled Eggs

So be an advocate to your ideas and contributions by stepping up and giving them more time and considerations by: Acting, Not-Assuming and Mixing Things Up. Or you can just keep them as scrambled eggs where yesterday would be regret maximization.

Chris Escobar is a coach for introverts and also enjoys helping teams become efficient. He resides in San Jose California with his amazing wife Boom Boom, two almost-automous teenagers: Zolie and Evanusky, and sassy Bichon, Lola.

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