Regret, Revival & Reputation (5041)

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I pulled the trigger on the Rode Rodecaster Pro. You’re listening to it now. I’ll update you on what’s happening here inside The Yellow Studio at the end of the show.

Thanks to everybody who contributed. I’ll be reaching out in the next few weeks to get the Skype calls scheduled.

Randy


 

Some nights ago. I don’t remember what day. Or night. It’s 2:15 am and I’m wide awake. Not uncommon.

I fire up Apple iTunes, where all my music resides, including the thousands of CD’s I’ve burned. And the digital downloads I’ve purchased.

I slap on a pair of headphones, one of about four within arm’s reach. I turn up the headphone amp to about 10 o’clock, plenty loud for me at this hour.

Jamestown Revival album UTAH is calling out to me for some reason. Released in 2014 it’s been a month or more since I’ve given it a go…so why not. I’ve been practically living on their newer release, circa this year 2019, San Isabel. So it’s time to dive into my catalog a bit.

This all happens because revival is on my mind. Their band name sparks it, but my love of their music is the draw. UTAH has a song entitled, Revival. So let’s do it. I click PLAY.

It’s track 6 and track 7 follows, a song entitled Truth. A theme begins to emerge and intersects what’s been on my mind the last week or more.

Vince Gill’s new record OKIE is a few weeks old and I’ve listened to it through a handful of times by now. As I’m pondering revival I start thinking of one particular song from this record, The Price of Regret. So I click PLAY and give it a go. Again.

“Everyone knows the price of regret, the things in life we never forget.”

Regret. Revival.

By the time I get to the 11th track of Vince’s new record (there are 12 tracks total), I’ve added a third R-word, reputation. The song is entitled, That Old Man Of Mine. It’s followed by the last track, A World Without Haggard. Songs of reputation. Legacy. What we remember about people. What people remember us for.

Regret. Revival. Reputation.

I don’t suppose all three are important to everybody. Some people claim to have no regrets. I think that’s foolish.

Others refuse revival. Some perhaps because their character is so low they’re nothing to revive. Did they ever have it? Maybe. Maybe not.

Some refuse revival because they don’t want to revive it. Easier, perhaps more short-term fun, to remain in sin and suffering. No going back to a time when they were more noble, more innocent, more helpful and made a more positive difference in the lives of others.

So reputations are largely earned. Deserved perhaps. And I’m not talking about public reputation or how the masses feel. Most of us aren’t subjected to that because we’re mostly anonymous to the world. But inside our little corner of the world, we’re known. For something. As something. What?

When my kids were quite small – toddlers really – I was spending considerable time with an old man who was an important mentor in my life. Weekly we spent hours together talking and studying. I was burning life’s candle at both ends, spending close to 80 hours working and devoting time to church and family. It was exhausting, but I was young and didn’t think much of it. Truthfully, my energy was quite high much of the time. So one weeknight each week sitting at his kitchen table – sometimes with my family in tow – wasn’t burdensome. I wanted to know what he knew and was anxious to learn all I could.

One evening talk turned to family. He was a father with grown children. I was mere years into my own fatherhood and I inquired about regret. He said he had no regrets.

Here was a man I respected. A man 25 plus years my senior. I remember thinking of my own regrets and I had many years to go to reach his age. It seemed impossible to me, so I pressed him. “I can’t think of anything I’d do differently,” he said, referencing his fatherhood. I didn’t pursue the conversation any further, even though I was supremely puzzled. My oldest was only a few years old and already I could think of a gazillion things I’d have done differently had I known better.

Perhaps he was older than me when his fatherhood began, I thought. Perhaps he was simply better than me. But I knew he wasn’t perfect any more than I was. Or am.

From that moment on I determined that any man who lacks regret must certain lack the degree of wisdom I was seeking. I confess that my esteem of him was altered that evening. It made no sense to me. That was over 30 years ago. Now that I’m old, it makes even less sense.

I’ve concluded that a life without regret is a life without introspection or wise self-examination. What other possible explanation would there be? Is it possible to live into adulthood without regrets? I can’t see any possible way. Not about fatherhood or any other pursuit. Volumes couldn’t likely catalog all of my current regrets.

Insight is required for regret to surface. Those unwilling or unable to soberly reflect on the choices of their life or their behaviors aren’t blessed with the high values that come from regret.

Regret is the stuff of growth and improvement. Satisfaction is the enemy. Contentment with the past and the present prevents a more extraordinary future. Otherwise what would drive us to change. To grow. To improve. To learn.

Regret is not the enemy. It’s a friend whose aim isn’t to destroy but to build up. But regret allows each of us to choose the course for regret. One path leads to destruction. The other to build up. You’re free to choose either path.

Foolishness is the path chosen by those who ignore lessons regret can teach.

Wisdom is the path chosen by those of us determined to learn from our mistakes, those things we regret.

What do we do with our regret? How can we best leverage it for our welfare? And for those with whom we have to do?

I can only share what I’ve tried to do. Not always successfully, but nobody succeeds all the time.

“What happened?”

The rules of journalism may help even though some are answered before we begin to reflect. “Who?” is obvious. We are the who. So I jump to “what?”

It’s too easy and too simple to beat ourselves up over what we regret. Completely unprofitable, but easy. Addictive for some. Catapulting many people into dwelling on their victimization. Were it not for others or circumstances beyond their control – those regrets might have been avoided. So they think.

Wisdom provokes us to own our outcomes. Good, bad and ugly. Not with some unreasonable view that circumstances and situations are all within our control. We’re not God. We’re not capable of deciding or behaving for others. External forces impose themselves on all of us. Our responsibility is to handle them as best we can. Sometimes we fail. Those failures are our regrets.

That’s why this question is the beginning of greater wisdom. To avoid blaming others, but to accept our own responsibilities and honestly answer the question, “What happened?” A more personal, intimate question is appropriate – “What did I do? And why did I do it?”

Much of my regret stems from impulsive behavior or the failure to listen carefully to impulses (intuition). Ironic, isn’t it?

Impulses and intuition that can work favorably or against us. I can only speak for myself. I’ve been able to mostly categorize my regrets of impulse into two boxes. One box is my own desire or lack of due consideration for others. The other box is when I sense others need help.

My selfish box can cause me to act too hastily. Regret in these cases stems from my impatience.

My box of concern for others causes me to act too patiently. Regret stems from wishing I would have acted sooner. Or that I would have acted when I failed to act because of fear.

Haste. Delay.

Action. Inaction.

These are the most common terms of my own regret. And these are the answers to WHAT and WHY.

So what can be done? How might I benefit from these insights?

The question now becomes, “How?”

It seems so clear looking back. Exhibit more patience when my own skin is involved. Allow some time to pass. Think of others who may be involved, then keep asking if I’m omitting anybody else. Then think some more.

Critical judgment condemns over-thinking, but in this area of regret, I mostly wish I had done more of it.

The flipside of regret are those times when I suspected others were in need of help and I resisted the impulse. I delayed. I hesitated. I remained silent. Or I didn’t press hard enough. I didn’t lead the charge to provide assistance. Quite frankly, these are most biggest regrets because they come with a cursed question, “What might have been?”

What problems might have been prevented? What help might have made a long-lasting difference?

Those regrets linger much longer for me. And the quest for revival begins.

an improvement in the condition or strength of something

That’s the definition of revival.

I must make up my mind to learn from regret. The sooner the better. For making up mind to learn, which means I must quickly commit to closer examination of what happened and why. Sometimes I need a bit of time to pass before I’m able to have a wiser perspective. Most always I rely on others – notably my wife – to provide a viewpoint for greater clarity. The bigger the regret or challenge the more I lean on outside advisors. I don’t trust myself enough in the dissection of my past to fully realize what happened or why. I certainly don’t trust myself fully to figure out how I might avoid repeating the regret.

This is where I can get wrapped up in dwelling too much on what’s already done and cannot be undone. The endless loop tape in my head goes round and round and round. It requires extraordinary effort and I don’t often succeed as quickly as I’d like. Distraction seems the best remedy. That’s another R word befitting of revival. Remedy.

It usually boils down the realization that by obsessing any longer I’m only neglecting what benefit I might be giving to my own life and to others. At some point there’s some magical switch that flips where I simply get on with it. I wish I could get my hand on the switch at will. But it flips on its own in due course. I have to endure the process.

Revival includes the most difficult chore of all for me. To move on. To leave the regret behind knowing that if I had to do it over again, I’d do it differently. I can easily and quickly embrace the commitment that I’d do things differently. That’s called repentance, yet another R-word.

Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment to change for the better

Moving past it. That’s the tough part for me. I’ve confessed to you before that forgiveness is currently my number one character strength according to The VIA Character Strengths Survey. The problem with our character strengths, which are those character traits that we most often deploy, is that they sometimes can work against us by becoming our weaknesses, too. I’m able to quickly and easily forgive others while finding it almost impossible to forgive myself. That’s what makes revival difficult.

It’s not impossible. Just hard. Lots of work, concentration, and focus. So it’s urgent for me to get on with the process as soon as possible. The longer I delay the effort, the longer it will take to come out the other side.

All of these components contribute to create a person’s reputation. Our behavior determines our reputation, but much of that stems from our ability and resolve to course correct our lives. Everybody knows failure. Everybody is well acquainted with regret. Whether or not we’re willing to make things right…and grow…THAT determines who we really are. In our own eyes and in the eyes of others. Reputation.

Sadly, regret is the beginning of it all.

Sad only for those who fail to feel it. Fully. Enough to determine to do better.

Sad for those of us who love people unable to find a good place of regret so they can commit to correct their course. There are many lost lives unwilling or unable to reap the positive impact of regret, revival and reputation.

Emotions.

It’s not an R-word, but emotions are very important in all this. Do you know somebody who ridicules emotion while bragging how their logical approach is much more productive? Yeah, me neither. 😀 (Boy am I trying hard to rid myself of such people!)

Emotions serve us. They help us. Sure, like many things that are strengths or assets, they may become liabilities, but we’re foolish to make negative generalizations. We’re talking about feelings.

Would you rather interact with a psychopath or sociopath? Somebody able to kill you and feel nothing? Oh, yeah, much more logical. 😉  #Ninnies

Feelings aren’t facts, but they may as well be. They form the realities upon which we act. Sometimes emotions drive us more powerfully than facts or evidence because feelings (emotions) are sparked by beliefs. We think something and it’s all the evidence we need.

Emotions have a vital role in how we think and act. Our emotions compel us to take action, avoid taking action and they influence our decisions.

Brainiacs who know about such matters tell us there are three parts to an emotion:

  1. The subjective part associated with how we experience the emotion
  2. The physiological part associated with how our body reacts to the emotion
  3. The expressive part associated with how we behave to the emotion

For a simpleton like me it boils down to how well we can be in touch with ourselves and our emotions. One basic question can go a long way toward helping…

Why am I feeling this way?

You may not always know. At least not at first. We need time to process what has happened and what is happening. During these moments – they take however long they take – we’re likely feeling many different emotions. This is that roller coaster ride we’re on when dramatic things happen to us. Something we’ve all experienced.

During those moments we’re not able to answer the question because we don’t yet know what we’re feeling. Our emotions are settling down, finding a place to land.

This is an important time though because we could end up in a very bad place for a long time. Rather than moving forward we can easily get stuck with negative emotions. Bitterness. Anger. Resentment. Jealousy. We have to devote ourselves to avoid landing on any of these negative emotions once things do settle down.

That’s why the question is important. It fosters a focus on thinking about what we’re feeling. That tends to serve as a useful deterrent from camping out on a negative emotion because self-reflection and self-awareness promote more positive things. So during these roller-coaster rides keep looking at yourself. Don’t take your eyes off what you’re feeling and keep asking yourself the question, “Why am I feeling this way?” Take the time to answer it, too.

By now I hope you’re clearly seeing the vast difference between selfish behavior and self-reflection behavior. Selfish people don’t ask or answer the question. They just embrace how they’re feeling without regard to why. That fosters a path of least resistance way of living. It also deepens what is already likely prevalent in their life – a victim mindset. That never leads to settling on a good emotion.

It’s the difference in leveraging the positives of regret or wallowing in the negatives of it. The selfish, immature person wallows as a victim. The mature, wise person uses it to propel them forward by learning all they can so they can make adjustments in their life. That’s how revival works – we grow, restoring whatever may have been temporarily lost. Finding things we may have never yet found.

It’s the stuff of reputation. Our reputation.

Even a child is known by his deeds,
Whether what he does is pure and right.  – Proverbs 20:11

It’s not only true of kids. It’s true of you, too. And me. We’re known by how we behave. And so much of that is driven by how we feel and our ability to manage those feelings. That’s the very definition of emotional intelligence. The ability to understand and manage our emotions.

The second verse of Frank Sinatra’s classic song, My Way…

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

The song is a classic. And when Elvis or Frank sang it, it was an immediate attention-getter. It’s complete nonsense otherwise. Google the lyrics. You’ll see how pompous and foolish they truly are. “Too few to mention” is how regrets are categorized? A wiser, more honest appraisal might be “too few were handled as well as they should have been.” But that’s not lyrical. And wouldn’t make for a very good song. It’s a great song with a romantic notion of an ideal nobody will realize. But we’re able to easily fall in love with the idea of doing it our way. The inner child in each of us wants to have everything our way. When you read the lyrics through the eyes of a four-year-old you realize it’s spot on. The problem is 4-year-olds don’t get much done. And speaking only for myself, I doubt I’d want my reputation to be depicted by the four-year-old version of me. I’ve got a grandson that age and I love him very much, but his reputation wouldn’t be stellar if this were the extent of it. I’m going to join the rest of the people who love him to help him develop a better reputation, but he’ll be known by what he does. Not by what we hope he’ll do.

I’m thinking of some people who once lived honorably. They cared for others. Even watched out closely for others by helping others avoid trouble. And helping others avoid foolishness by urging them to consider the consequences. All good things. Great things.

But something changed. Foolishness set in. Regrets took a negative turn fostering a greater focus on being a victim. Selfishness became a way of life. Dedicated to ignoring the welfare of others – something once a priority. It’s almost as though they just got tired of caring about their own growth and decided it was best to regress back to a teenage-mentality where you only see what you want most. Suddenly, the once well-lived life goes south. Sometimes it goes very south.

I continue to be amazed at the incidents of this. How people can reach some point where the abandonment of values, convictions, principles and even faith can give way to something so shallow as selfish, short-term desires. And along with it, a reputation is forever (in most cases) changed.

He’s faithfully married, father of four. Never even considered being unfaithful to his wife. Until he is. Unfaithful.

And that ends it. The years spent being properly judged by his actions, which up to now have been mostly mature, sound and filled with “character.” Suddenly, it’s all out the window and he blows up his marriage, wrecks his family and other than the financial loss seems mostly unconcerned. He’s a changed man. And the change isn’t good. But he’s got no regrets. He’s too stupid and foolish to have those. Life will never get back on track until he decides to put it there. During the moments where selfishness is all-consuming, his emotions won’t allow him to consider the consequences and costs. He’s completely out of touch with why he’s feeling the way he’s feeling. His responses are now setting his reputation on a very different trajectory.

Or…

He comes to himself. A foolish moment brings with it extraordinary regret. Regret he must face.

He asks himself, “What am I going to do with this regret?” He decides to move forward, no matter how humiliating and painful it may be in the short-term because he’s not stupid. And a moment of foolishness need not forge a reputation as a fool.

Perhaps his wife is unforgiving. Maybe the marriage is forever wrecked, but he decides he won’t throw away a lifetime of work to build a life with some degree of integrity and character. Maybe his wife joins him to help move the marriage forward. Until and unless he embraces the revival that comes from regret, such things aren’t even possible. It’s all a total loss.

Daily countless people face such choices.

Many slide deeper into self-centeredness thinking only of themselves. No regard to who gets hurt or injured. As long as they’re happy.

Some refuse the slide. They leverage the regret they feel. They refuse to ignore it until it goes away – and we all know if you ignore regret long enough, it WILL go away. For whatever reason, some decide to live with their regret long enough to be revived. To quite literally come back to life. To see their life for what it is and to course correct the behavior that caused the regret. The equation isn’t so difficult once they stop long enough to embrace the regret.

My bad choice/behavior = My regret

Correct that choice/behavior = My regret goes away

Fail to understand and manage regret, fail to experience revival and damage your good reputation. We’re not talking about how others judge you with critical judgment. We’re talking about how people know you. How they see you. How they observe your choices and decisions as being moral, decent, integrity-filled, reliable, trustworthy…or not.

I’ve known too many people in my life who once were seen as honest, decent people, but that was long ago. The older we get the sadder it becomes. The losses pile up higher and higher. Time just makes it worse. More pathetic.

Why can’t they see it?

I’m plagued by that question, but I’m assuming – perhaps falsely – that they don’t see it. Maybe they see it, but don’t want to do anything about it. Maybe they see it, but figure it’s too hard to fix it. Maybe they see it and would like to change it, but figure the harsh judgment of others makes it not worth the effort.

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I’m only able to judge their choices and behaviors. Just as they’re able to judge mine. Discernment. That’s what we’re talking about. Not filling in gaps of knowledge with critical judgment, which is a common sport for most.

If I steal and lie, then I’m going to be known as a liar and thief.

If I make good on my word, and do what I say, then I’m known as a man of my word.

As the proverb says, “even a child is known by his doing.” What we DO matters.

Surely, people who lose themselves in selfishness can see this – at some point, right? I’m not sure. The prodigal son in the parable the Lord told came to himself, but perhaps not everybody does.

Hardness is a real threat. The Bible talks quite a lot about it. How a person can harden their heart. Not hardening of the arteries, but harden their mind to a point where they no longer experience regret. Their conscience isn’t bothered anymore. In some places, the Bible describes them sadly with a phrase I don’t think anybody would want to be ascribed to their own life – “past feeling.”

There’s that lack of emotion and how devastating that can be.

Those “past feeling” don’t experience regret anymore. They sacrifice revival to a higher quality way of life. They forfeit the trust and reliance others once had in them. They willfully leave behind profitable relationship choosing rather to join with others who are also past feeling. People past feeling joined with others past feeling. None of them able to do for each other anything profitable because they’ve all destroyed every relationship that could serve them to grow and improve. It’s the danger of the downward spiral and why it can be so tough to escape until some jolt occurs.

“Going to prison saved me,” she says. “I wouldn’t be here today if the cops hadn’t busted me.” She was devasted at the time cops arrested her with illegal narcotics. She spent less than a year in a county prison, but somewhere along the way she found regret. Until then, she admits regret was something she’d not felt in a long time. She was past feeling, but it came back. While in prison.

Now what?

She decided to do something profitable. The hard part was making the decision. A decision to stop behaving foolishly. To do something more profitable with her life. To seek revival, which led to restoring a long lost reputation.

That’s the 4th R-word that I intentionally left out of the title because you know how I love to bury the lead.

Redemption

For some reason, she longed for redemption. In prison, she figured it was worth whatever price she had to pay, including her selfishness. She saw her selfishness for what it truly was – her enemy! The culprit ruining her life was her own selfishness. She admits now that she incorrectly thought it would make her happy, but she found it worked in reverse. The more she indulged in what she wanted, the more she hurt people who cared about her and the people she once cared about. It ruined everything. She admits she couldn’t see it that way until she got to prison. I don’t know if that’s typical, but her admission to not seeing it scares me. So what if we can’t see it for what it really is? How deadly is that? Does it take something drastic as prison to open our eyes to our foolishness?

Maybe that just illustrates how deeply delusional we can all be about our own lives. Conversely, it may provide some clarity for why high-achievers see success in their endeavors while the rest of us stand around thinking they’re crazy. They see it as real. They believe it and it becomes so.

If it works in a negative way it must certainly be possible to work in a positive way. Would that I had to power to bottle that and evangelize it better!

Everybody Needs Redemption. Sometimes.

Experience and scripture have taught me that we all need spiritual redemption, but we all need all kinds of redemption. Sometimes.

Nobody other than the Lord has put it all together. We’ve all messed up. Done things that had to be fixed. Caused damage that required repairs. Hurt people who didn’t deserve it. Betrayed people.

Repentance. That’s what the Bible calls it, speaking of spiritual repentance. But there’s other kinds, too. And every wise person has to embrace it daily in their life.

2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Godly sorrow is regret spiritually, but you certainly need not believe in God to experience regret. Sorrow is required. A strong emotion.

We’re back to feelings and emotions. Still think they may be overrated? Still wanna lean into logic more?

Repentance is a change. It’s growth. It’s improvement. It’s turning from one course to pursue a better course. And it’s prompted by regret over past behavior and choices.

Let’s put the R’s in proper order before we finish.

Regret, Revival, Repentance, Redemption, Reputation

Regret fosters an emotion that serves us well. Sorrow.

Revival fosters an emotion that continues to push us forward. Desire to fix it.

Repentance is our decision to change. To improve.

Redemption is the high-value pay off of repentance. This is why we make a new choice. Because it’s worth it.

Reputation is a benefit we get past redemption. People discern all our actions and judge us accordingly. We regain or gain a good name.

Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

A good name.

Only people with appropriate feelings even care. Those past feeling have no regard for their name. Just another sad consequence of a person unable to manage their feelings.

Sheryl Crow just released an album entitled Threads. It’s a collection of collaborations. One song is “Redemption Day” with Johnny Cash. It contains these lyrics in the chorus.

There is a train that’s heading straight
To Heaven’s gate, to Heaven’s gate
And on the way, child and man
And woman wait, watch and wait
For redemption day

The good news is there is no reason to watch and wait for redemption day.

Those of us wanting to lean toward wisdom can lean into our regret not as victims put upon, but as people in control of our own choices and actions. We can embrace our sorrow deeply enough to seek revival through repentance so we can find redemption sooner than later. These are the building blocks upon which we can reclaim our good name and restore our reputation as a good person.

Randy

About the author: Randy Cantrell is the founder and CEO of Bula Network, LLC, a boutique training and coaching company. Go to GrowGreat.com