Professionally Speaking, My Biggest Mistake and Regret

Friday Funnel Focus by EPOCH Sales Management Solutions

The other day, I heard someone say, 


“Mistakes are the best education you can get. 

The secret is they don’t have to be  your mistakes.”  


Ladies and gentlemen, please consider this blog article my gift of education to you and your personal and professional growth, okay?

First let me add, today I am quite satisfied with my life and my plans for the rest of my life, God willing. I am where I am because of where I have been. For that, I thank God for this journey.  

When visiting my West Point roommate and his wife last month, I shared with them I felt like the most educated person around because I had made enough mistakes in the past 40 years to educate an entire Army. But ladies and gentlemen, my biggest mistake is that I did not do a better job of learning from others' mistakes


Why didn’t I work harder and find mentors to guide me?


It’s not that there weren’t some prime opportunities.  I had two incredible opportunities presented to me as a Senior, “Firstie”, at West Point. They were both related to my time as the “Head Basketball Rabble Rouser”.  

Let’s set the stage.  


Army had a young Basketball Coach, Mike Krzyzewski, and no Firsties on the team. At the time, I had no cheerleading or gymnastics experience, but I was from Indiana and graduated from a small High School (Loogootee) that was the “Hickory High School” of the 70’s in Indiana. Think of the movie Hoosiers.  I responded to a memo from the Head Football Rabble Rouser, and asked  him to do something about a team that can actually win.  Pardon my poor attitude, but we never beat Navy in Football in my four years at Army. The result. I got a battlefield promotion to Head Basketball Rabble Rouser.

The 1976-1977 season turned out to be Coach K’s best year at Army and one of Army’s best basketball seasons ever. 


A Missed Mentor Opportunity

That year, my I-2 77 and I-2 78 friends helped me organize trips of cadets to more Army basketball games than the previous 3 years. I chose MAJ Lloyd to be our Officer In Charge (OIC) for the trips. MAJ Lloyd was not your common tactical officer. The man had more medals than the rest of the tactical officers combined, or it seemed that way.  He was not a West Point Grad, I believe he got a battlefield commission in Viet Nam.  I am not sure there was a finer leader amongst the officer corps at West Point at that time.  On one of our last trips, MAJ Lloyd said to me, “Cadet Wuensch, I have rubbed elbows with greats and near greats and they all had something in common and you have that something in you.”  Ladies and gentlemen, I met MAJ Lloyd once the following year at the Office Club when I went back for the Army Navy basketball game at West Point.  After that, I lost touch with him.  I look back and realize what an idiot I was to not stay in touch with that man.  I was so proud of what he thought of me, but not humble enough to continuously ask for his advice. I am sure he would have been glad to share. A missed mentor opportunity.

If I had had MAJ Lloyd as a mentor, who knows where my life would have gone?


Another Missed Mentor Opportunity

Later that year, Coach K and his wife had my family over for dinner during graduation week.  That night, Coach K shared how much he appreciated what I did for Army Basketball and his door was open to me anytime.  I saw him briefly the next year, visited him in his home in Durham one time and saw him briefly in 2009 when he was inducted in Army's Hall of Fame.  Again, what an idiot I was to not stay in touch regularly.  Again I was so proud of my accomplishment but not humble enough to seek guidance from one of the finest leaders ever to grace a basketball court. Another missed mentor opportunity.


More Missed Mentor Opportunities

In my sales and sales management career, I thought highly of Ron Kelley at Siecor and Chuck Holley at Fujitsu, but did little to seek them or anyone else as a mentor. 

Bottom line, I was not intentional about seeking a mentor to help guide my professional career.  If I had a regret it was my biggest mistake and regret, professionally speaking.  



“Mistakes are the best education you can get. 

The secret is they don’t have to be  your mistakes.”  


Missed Professional Development Opportunities

Looking back, one of my missed Professional Development Opportunities was not following through on Charles Hobbs “Time Power” programs.  Today, I am a big fan of Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus System. But what if I had stuck with Charles Hobbs program years ago,  where would I be today?  And what if I had a mentor at that time, would they have helped me stick with the program or recommend an even better one.

Another missed professional development opportunity was not appreciating the difference between Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) selling.  I spent countless hours on my own on the wrong professional development for sales with Zig Zigler, Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy etc.  Those men were great B2C Sales Trainers, but I was in a B2B world. Sure wish I had a mentor to show me the right way back then.

Whether it was ignorance, pride, lack of humility or all three; I did nothing to pursue a mentor to help me professionally.

Please learn from my mistakes. Find a guide.

Where can you find a guide or guides for your professional development?


My Recommendations

  1. Observe. Who do you want to learn from? Ask them if they are willing to help.  Options include people in your company or in your industry.  You may want to consider hiring a coach or coaches to help. Please invest the time and money, where it makes sense.
  2. Consider Masterminds or Peer Groups where you can learn and share with like minded people.  Vistage, C-12, TAB are types of peer groups for small business owners to consider.
  3. Virtual Guides.  In today’s world of podcasts, digital/audio books and YouTube Videos and online courses; there are many people you can follow that can guide you.  You may want to vet them out with people you trust before investing too much time to make sure they are the right source for you.


Bottom line, do not let pride, ignorance or lack of humility get in the way. Find a guide or guides to help you along the way of your professional development.

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September 8th, 2023|Categories: | |

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