How entrepreneurs should deal with regret - opinion

 A man types on a computer (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A man types on a computer
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

We have all made decisions we wish we could take back, and successful entrepreneurs are no different. Dov Moran, Managing Partner at Grove Ventures and one of the top figures in Israeli high-tech, claims that the question is how you deal with your regrets, learn and move forward. Moran explains the importance of questioning and shares one thing he wishes he would have done differently.

 Thursday morning. I am going to lecture in front of a group of young Intelligence Officers in the Navy. I am always a little nostalgic when it comes to the Navy, as this is where I served myself. In the Q&A session at the end of the lecture, a young woman officer asks me what my biggest regret is. On the face of it, this is an obvious question. And yet, I do not have an honest, immediate answer. 

I eventually reply saying that I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. We all do. However, there is no way that I will reflect and regret it today. I have made wrong choices here and I have made wrong decisions there, and naturally, there are many things that I would have done differently or refrain from doing at all. 

The smart thing to do is not to judge yourself through a prism of regret. When you look back at life, or at your entrepreneurial journey for that matter, you should push through it and be forgiving toward your former self. Life, I believe, is often like the touch-move rule in chess, which specifies that if a player deliberately touched a piece, it must be moved as long is it has a legal (and moral) move. 

Author Dov Moran (Credit: David Garb, Courtesy of Grove Ventures)Author Dov Moran (Credit: David Garb, Courtesy of Grove Ventures)

You must cope and learn how to react to the new situation you put yourself in, instead of dwelling in self-pity. Who you are today is a culmination of all of the acts that have led up to this moment?

ON MY WAY BACK to the office I ponder the question again. 

There are an infinite number of things I would have done differently. There are an infinite number of things I would have not done if I would have known their results in the first place. There are an infinite number of things I could have done and, unfortunately, I have chosen not to. 

So here is one specific and silly thing that I chose not to do when I was young, and I regret until this day. In fact, every time I type, including now, it gets me mad to think about it. My lack of action had ongoing consequences that I live with daily: I never learned how to touch type. 

You see, back when I was a student at the Technion, we used pens and papers (some even insisted on pencils). I had a Parker pen I got as a present that had an exquisite quality. For computer software, we used punch cards, where holes were punched by hand to represent computer data and instructions. To put data into early computers, cards were fed into a card reader connected to a computer, which converted the sequence of holes to digital information. 

As programmers, we had stacks of cards that we used to put in the card reader to input the program. I remember how horrible it was for us if the card pack accidently fell and the cards got mixed. 

The keys of these old keyboards were hard to press, so it was natural for us students to type with only one finger. Soon after, the world progressed and people started using computer terminals, then personal computers (PCs), then phones and today smartphones. 

With time, I was able to improve my typing skills: First, I managed to move from one-finger to two-finger keyboard typing, using both index fingers. I admit it, I am a two-finger typist. I also look at the keyboard and only occasionally peek to the screen, frequently to discover that I wrote an entire sentence in Hebrew instead of English or that I used the wrong letter by mistake. Second, I increased my speed and became better and better. Honestly, I think I could win a world championship in two-finger typing if there ever was one. 

But when my colleagues saw me type, they often laughed at me, or instead politely asked: “Why don’t you learn how to touch type?”

Twenty-five years ago, I decided to give it a go. I went and bought myself a CD-ROM with a software that teaches touch-typing. I soon discovered it required time, patience, willingness, and that my two-finger typing - as I practiced and became amazingly fast at it - is already good enough, at least for the short term. 

And that is that. I do not know how to touch type. I stopped trying to make this transition happen, and this was a foolish decision. 

I use the keyboard for hours every day, and even if I could have saved 10% of each time I do so, I probably could have lived for at least a few extra productive months. Thinking about it, I still have at least 20 more years of typing ahead, so maybe I should go and learn it now? Should I?

Let there be no regrets on what happened in the past but stop every once in a while, to ask yourselves what you may regret in the future. You too may discover that there are things you should, and can, still fix. 

Dov Moran is a managing partner of Grove Ventures.