Daniel Pink On The Power Of Regret

Daniel Pink

My Wavemaker Conversation with Daniel Pink on his original research into Four Core Regrets; plus a cameo from legendary psychotherapist Dr. Irvin Yalom. (Podcast included below)

Many people view regret as depressing — an emotion to avoid.

This is a story about the uplifting, empowering side of regret.

The insights come from a Wavemaker Conversation I recently had with Daniel Pink about his new book, The Power Of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward.

A Database of Regrets

For The Power of Regret, Pink synthesized decades of research. And he conducted a World Regret Survey — collecting more than sixteen thousand regrets from people in 105 countries.

He has found that people, wherever they live, tend to regret the same four things.

And what’s interesting about these four core regrets is that they operate as a photographic negative of the good life. That is, if we understand what people regret the most, we understand what they value the most. And so this emotion of regret actually ends up being a pathway to understanding what makes life worth living.

Here’s one of the big four — just in time to inform our New Year’s resolutions:

People overwhelmingly regret what they didn’t do much more than what they did. [R]egrets of inaction dramatically outnumber regrets of action. And one of the four core regrets is what I call boldness regrets. People regret not being bold.

For example:

I have huge numbers of people who regret not speaking up. That was surprising to me. Huge numbers of people, even using that phrase, ’I wish I had spoken up. I wish I had asserted myself.’

Heading into 2022:

I think the evidence shows overwhelmingly that a year from now, you’re less likely to regret taking a chance, and you’re really likely to regret not taking a chance. So the takeaway is, take the chance. Whether it’s in your romantic life, whether it’s in your business life, whether it’s simply in your community speaking up, take the chance.

There is much more to learn — actionable intelligence — from Daniel Pink. There always is, as I first discovered in 2013, when I interviewed Pink for the radio program I hosted, CNN Profiles, about his book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.

Our current conversation includes a couple of timeless lessons of persuasion from that book — just in time to make you more impactful in this new year.

And, in the first two minutes, you’ll hear from legendary psychiatrist, Dr. Irvin Yalom — a father of modern psychotherapy — who shared with me, in a 2015 Wavemaker Conversation, his strong belief in the therapeutic value of regret.

Please Click the Spotify Player Now To Hear The Conversation

Where Curiosity Meets Hope

One of the things I love about my conversation with Daniel Pink is that it began with curiosity about a subject many people view as negative or discouraging — and led to a place of hope.

That is what I try to create in these Wavemaker Conversations newsletters: a place where curiosity meets hope.


Michael Schulder: From a Researcher at ABC News; To a Writer at The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour on PBS; To my five years as a Writer for Peter Jennings at ABC World News Tonight; And 17 years as a Senior Executive Producer at CNN.


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