We started off these two blog series with Paul’s text to the Corinthians. He listed the following items:
- Afflicted but not crushed
- Perplexed but not driven to dispair
- Persecuted but not forsaken
- Struck Down but not destroyed
We then looked at Daniel Pink’s book The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward. Pink identifies the four core regrets:
They begin with an irresistible lure and with incredible logic.
Thwarted possibility of growth. The failure to become the person—happier, braver, more evolved, than we could have been.
Deceit, infidelity, theft, betrayal, sacrilege.
Together, they make some interesting connections. In Paul’s letter, we experience great difficulties and painful points in our lives. But in the end, they don’t break us. We are not crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, or destroyed.
In Pink’s book, the four regrets of foundational, boldness, morals, and connection are capable of breaking us and in all cases are self-inflicted. In Paul’s writing, the pain and suffering are no more or less than those identified by Pink. However, in Paul’s letter, there is a sense that these things happen in everyday life. While we should examine our own behavior and beliefs to determine if we are contributing to the affliction, perplexion, persecution, and personal destruction put forth by Paul—in the end, it may have nothing to do with our own behavior. Daniel Pink says that it essentially has everything to do with our personal behavior.
If you look at each of Pink’s regrets, there is a self-infliction:
- Foundational: It starts with an irresistible lure. This may be food, sex (also mentioned in the moral section), or materialistic desires. I’ve mentioned that my irresistible lures are new cars (I’ve had a new one every three years over the past 50 years). And watches. The self-inflicted part happens when we let our logic run ramrod over knowing that certain things are just wrong. I have an incredibility logical mind. I can convince myself that almost anything can be explained through logic. And I’m good at it. My self-infliction is in allowing my logical brain to convince myself that my logic overrules irresistible lures. I’m just too “smart” to be dictated by my feelings.
- In the boldness category, Pink makes the point that we’re just not bold enough to try new things. I’ve had three major careers since graduating from engineering school. The first was walking steel 160′ in the air. The second was developing a software company at the beginning of the microcomputer age. The third was TLC (Team Leadership Culture) consulting all over the world. A lot of people would say to me, “I couldn’t do that, I was never qualified. How were you able to accomplish three different careers and work all over the world?” It’s because I was bold and willing to try new and different things. I never felt qualified either. It just seemed like the new and bold thing to do at the time. Our lack of boldness is self-inflicted when we feel that we must be qualified first. If you’re bold in trying new things, you’re never qualified.
- Moral. In this one, I focused on sacrilege. It doesn’t have to be a religious issue. Sacrilege means “violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred.” What do you consider as sacred? Violating it will cause suffering.
- Connection. I have at least three groups of good friends. Two of the groups are (or were) centered in Ann Arbor where we lived for 35 years. One group is built around our GPS4Leaders App. We’ve gone through good times and bad but have stuck together for several years. The second ground of guys have given ourselves the name “Space Cadets.” This is a group from several professions and we spend our time discussing clients and how to add the best of who we are to help them grow and become better. I feel very close to this group. We also moved to Grand Rapids, MI, a few years ago to be close to one daughter and our two grandchildren (our other daughter and grandkids live around the world and are currently in Tunisia). We are now a part of a Grand Rapids church and have developed several friends there. We’re very blessed with all of these connections.
Pain: Everyday and Self-Inflicted
Paul talks about the difficulties that we face in this world. If we have examined ourselves and feel we’re seeing everything clearly, these are difficulties that we face just because we live here.
Pink, on the other hand, talks about regrets being self-inflicted. We can avoid that by examing ourselves and our motives. It often takes that close friend who we trust who is not afraid to point out our flaws and shortcomings. But we must have someone that we’re that close to and who is willing to tell us what they are seeing in our behavior. Avoid self-inflicted pain—the world is full of enough pains for us without the ones we cause ourselves.