The Joseph Group

Where Is the Neon Sign Directing You?

July 15, 2022

To Inspire:

A select group of clients and I have been working through a mid-year assessment—considering:

  • What did you set out to do at the beginning of the year?
  • Where are you at this midpoint of the year?
  • What went right?
  • What went wrong, and why?
  • What are you regretting?
  • What’s your next step?

Brené Brown said, “If you have no regrets, or you intentionally set out to live without regrets, I think you’re missing the very value of regret.

Yes—there is value to regret. It’s in your response to it.

Self-condemnation would clearly be an unhealthy, unhelpful response. When people focus on themselves rather than their actions, efforts, or outcomes, it makes improvement more difficult. We all fall short, mess up, and experience failure, but that doesn’t make us one. And if we buy into the belief that we are a failure, we miss the opportunity to learn from the experience and make the necessary corrections.

When we experience a failure and the discomfort that comes with it, we can choose to deal with it, resolve it, and use it to our advantage next time.

Regret can:

  1. Alert us – make us aware of our having gone off course; help us be more integrous.
  2. Instruct us – provide important feedback so we can avoid taking the same wrong step again.
  3. Motivate us – inspire us to do something different; make a positive change now or in the future.

That feeling of regret does not need to be a barrier to progress. It can be a neon sign pointing us in a new direction.

I’m reminded of Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in Five Chapters:


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

Speaking of walking down the same street; I met a podiatrist who was thinking about reinventing himself. After thirty years of practice, he didn’t want to be a podiatrist any longer. He looked at me and with real  pain of regret in his voice said, “Jim, I enjoyed every minute of medical school, but not a single day of being a podiatrist.”

Are you regretting anything? Don’t just feel it, welcome it! It’s a call to change and grow.

Where is the neon sign directing you?




Written by Jim Gernetzke, Executive Coach and founder of Nos Lumine