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No Regrets

No Regrets


I enjoy reading and listening to interviews with famous leaders and CEOs.  No matter the media outlet the questions seem to follow a similar pattern and always include the “What is your greatest regret?’ inquiry.

Most everyone answers the question in the same way, claiming they have no regrets because everything they have done has led them to the person they are today.

Part of fun of reading these interviews is imaging how I would answer the questions and for the most part I would concur on the no regret line of thinking.  Sure I have had many failures that have taught me important lessons, but no regrets.

Sometimes I enjoy asking my husband the same questions to see what his take on things would be and he follows suit in the regrets category.  And even if he didn’t, I wouldn’t divulge anything here- we have a pact on what I can reveal in my musings.

In spite of our no regrets stance, over the years I have heard us both express misgivings on one specific topic.   Concerts we never took the time to go see when we had the opportunity.

We are reaching the age in which some of the iconic artists of our youth are passing on to the big venue in the sky, and although we have spent endless hours listening and singing along to them on albums, 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, MP3s and Spotify we never bought tickets to the show.  Now it’s too late.

I for one never saw Michael Jackson, Prince or David Bowie.  I may have created a new regret listing these as it could cause some judging of my musical leanings.  My husband has a list of his own but the pact applies here as well.

As far as regrets go I realize these are inconsequential but it does speak to missed opportunity.  In googling lists of life’s greatest regrets, squandered chances of all types rank high.

I have seen this in my work with families at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation after a loved one passes away.  Many times relatives of the deceased will share stories of unfilled philanthropic dreams of their family members.

A few years ago an elderly donor who insisted on remaining anonymous came to see me about constructing a building that bore his name that would benefit the residents of Sanibel Island.  He didn’t want to leave money in his estate for the project, but rather wanted the building constructed while he was alive, so he could see its impact before he died.  We worked on plans and renderings, identified non-profit partners and saw a pathway to his dream.  Everything was in place, but he hesitated on seizing the opportunity.  He often told me that he wanted to check out a few more things and he liked to take his time on big decisions.  We met often over a sushi buffet to refine the options and talk about the possibilities.  On our last lunch outing he had not made a decision but felt like he was close.

The following day his significant other called to tell me he had passed away in his sleep.  Although his attorney and family members knew of his plans he had made no provisions for the building in his will, so the dream died with him.  Upon reflection I did feel regret that I was not able to make that happen for him and all that would have benefited from the building.

If you are dreaming a dream of any size, don’t wait.  Seize the chance to make it happen and let me know if I can help.


The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $115 million, it has provided more than $71 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit











Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More