By Mark Sanborn

Regrets. We all have them. Some of us ignore them, while others wallow in them. Fewer learn and benefit from them.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could benefit from your regrets and convert the negative emotions surrounding your missteps into positive emotions that fuel your success?

Here are six things you can do to achieve just that:

  1. It happened, so accept it. Don’t play “what if?” At this point it doesn’t matter. The more you rehearse your regrets, the bigger your mistakes become.
  2. Deal with the emotional first and, as quickly as possible, let it go. Why? Because if you don’t deal with your emotions, the negative ones will continue to gnaw at you. Spend a few minutes going deep into the pain of the regret, and then loosen your grasp on it. Stop the negative from trickling in.
  3. Identify what you’ve learned. No loss or setback should be wasted. If you don’t find a lesson, you’re likely to make the same mistake in the future.
  4. Decide what you won’t do again. Be clear on what to avoid. Pinpoint the biggest cause of your regret and, if you can’t completely avoid it, be wary when you find yourself again in the same territory.
  5. Commit to a different and better course of action. What’s better than knowing what not to do? Knowing what to do instead.
  6. Let the disappointment feed you. Disappointment is natural, but with the right attitude, it can be converted to resolve. Bring the same energy you formerly had about your regret and convert it into the positive energy of commitment and determination.

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is the president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an “idea studio” that seeks to motivate and develop leaders in and outside of business. He’s the best-selling author of the books Fred Factor and The Potential Principle and a noted expert on leadership, team building, customer service and company change. He holds the Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame. Check out any of his excellent books; his video series, “Team Building: How to Motivate and Manage People”; or his website,, to learn more.