They sat around a large round table in the executive suite. It was another boring ‘leadership development’ meeting, and her mind, as usual, was wandering. Fortunately the window in the executive suite had an excellent view of the Rockies. This view, she said, was sometimes the only reason she kept this job.
“Sometimes, If I lean back out of my cubicle, I can see the bright blue sky and the snow-peaked caps of the mountains,” she once told me. If she stayed in this job for 5 more years or so she knew she could earn a corner office, maybe with and unobstructed view.
“Have you ever regretted a decision you have made?” The group leader asked as they began their leadership exercises. “Let’s share, and talk about how we can make better decisions.”
They began to go around the circle and share their regrets, having fired somebody, having been too shy to ask for a promotion, not networking enough. She doodled in her notebook, looked up, nodded. The talk came to a middle-aged middle of the room. He leaned back in his leather chair, his arms pushing him back, his eyes looking thoughtfully at the ceiling. He slowly blew out his breath, and leaned forward, placing his arms squarely on the table in front of him and began to speak.
“It’s not the decisions that you make that you regret,” he said, “It’s the chances that you don’t take. I never think about what I’ve done so much as I think about what I haven’t.”
He spoke to nobody in particular, but then to everybody.
“I regret not living enough.”
At that moment, everyone around her melted away. She sat in the room alone, his words echoing in her ears, starring at the white walls bordering the window. She felt her hands loosen the grip on what she knew and started allowing herself to star letting go.
Almost a year ago she had decided to leave this life for another. She had signed up for the Peace Corps, and would be leaving soon. It was a lifelong dream, finally awoken from its slumber. She had to put in her notice soon. Nobody knew.
She was afraid. Considering backing out. She was worried it wasn’t the right thing. She was thinking of a way out.
Then, at the perfect moment, he said exactly what she needed to hear.
Her mind came back into focus and her eyes turned to the people in the room. She remembered how being here meant being unhappy. How this life had left her feeling unfulfilled and trapped. How she had waiting for life to happen to her here, instead of running forward and making it happen herself.
It was time to leave this view and exchange it for another.
She was moving out of just a room with a view and letting go for a fuller life—a trade-off from the daily grind to the absolute unknown. A challenge full of adventure and danger but more importantly, a life she wouldn’t regret.
The walls faded out, and the sky came closer. Suddenly she found herself outside of all of it, really living, not regretting the choice of a full life. she moved forward, hands outstretched, breathing real air and seeing life for reals, outside of walls and from all angles, with any view she wanted to choose.
Has anybody said something that was exactly what you needed to hear to move forward? Tell me about it.