Prepared by Failure

We are not defined by our failures. We are prepared by them. – Brad Montague

Last night my daughter found an art project on social media that she was dying to do,  “Glue Balloon Yarn”.  Her enthusiasm for the project was so infectious that she convinced my wife to run out to the store at 7pm to pick up the materials and give it a go.

My initial reaction was to push back because it was getting late on a school night and somehow her projects always end up being my projects. I was tired and not really feeling glue, balloons and yarn. However, I kept quiet because I appreciated her interest in doing something that wasn’t “digital”.

The materials arrived.  The project started with great zeal and then the tears came.  It wasn’t working to her expectations. It didn’t look like the video. It was hard. She wanted help.

I inserted myself with some good ‘ole Dad advice.  “Don’t worry about failing, view this an experiment in learning.  Your first try won’t be perfect. You will get better with the next one.”

In the midst of her frustration, she stopped, looked at me through teary eyes and said..”but Dad, I don’t like to fail.”

Somewhere along the way she has adopted a belief that being wrong or failing is bad. I’m sure as a parent I’ve placed pressure on her to perform in school or social situations.  In her highly influential brain she has interpreted that as “I’m not acceptable if I don’t get this right”.

Now it’s my duty as a parent to unwind those those thoughts to bring her to a place where she is comfortable with experimenting. Not only is perfection not achievable, it’s paralyzing.

I came across this great video of Sara Blakely talking about dinner conversations with her family growing up.  Her Dad would ask the question, “What did you fail at this week?”.

Failure was celebrated and high fives were handed out in recognition of them.  Sara goes on to explain that it re-framed her definition of failure. She says, the real failure is in not trying.

Instead of looking at failure as failing, she looked at is a gift. She realized that in every failure there was something to be learned.

In the face of failure, it’s hard not to get bent out of shape. We worry about outside perception rather than inside production. Celebrating our imperfections makes way for pruning and learning.

I choose to celebrate my mistakes and those of others.  The challenges of today become preparation for tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see what the next yarn ball looks like.


Hot Now

On Friday two boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts showed up in my office. The site of the boxes ignited excitement and pre-feeding guilt at the same time.

They were hot.  Perfect.


I resisted the temptation at first. Then I witnessed a fellow coworker grab a donut. He proceeded to eat it carefully…with two hands.

This donut was so cherished by him that he had to consume it with two hands.  I commented to him that I had never seen that before. The only thing he could muster in response between the chews was, “it’s so good”.

It struck me…the way he was eating that donut.

I normally hold my food with one hand.  The other hand holds a napkin or types or does something else. I don’t give my full attention to the donut. I don’t give it the attention it so deserves. He was fully present with his donut.

For whatever reason this behavior resonated with me.  As silly as it may seem, holding that donut represented true love for me.

He was holding onto what he loved with all that he had.  He was giving it his full attention.  It was hot now.

If you’re holding on to something with only one hand consider extending another, you won’t regret it.

My Loves

We were meant to live out our unique love.  It is meant to be shared. When we share love, it spreads. It’s infectious. When we identify and prioritize love, it brings us life and revives us. – Jeff Shinabarger, Yes or No

Last week I stopped in the Little Tart Bakeshop in Krog Street Market to pick up a coffee.  I’m not normally a fancy coffee guy, but I was feeling fancy, so I ordered a cappuccino.  After a few minutes, here is what returned…

I was excited to receive my coffee when I saw the art work. I don’t know if this barista loved their job or not, but I loved what they gave me.

I loved the quality of the coffee and the presentation. I’m grateful that they shared this tiny bit of art with me. It made my morning and was a small reminder that what we give to others brings joy to them in ways sometimes the giver doesn’t even imagine.

I see that in who I love, the reason I love them is out of what they give freely give to me.  I love them for who they are and part of who they are is what they share.

My love should shape my choices. What I choose, shows what I love.

Who I love

  • Jesus’s grace and mercy
  • My Wife’s diligence and beauty
  • My Kid’s passion and uniqueness
  • My Parent’s sacrifice and availability
  • My Friend’s comradeship and understanding
  • My Mentor’s wisdom, honesty, generosity and creativity


What I love

  • Creating and playing songs on the acoustic guitar
  • Singing when no one is listening
  • Losing time in a run
  • Brainstorming ideas with a friend
  • Constructing something new with legos
  • Organizing a project
  • Bringing structure to abstract ideas
  • Connecting with nature through sport
  • Seeking wisdom
  • Writing

That’s who and what I “say” I love.  Let’s take a peek at what I actually love by investigating how I invest my time and where I invest my money.

My love is expressed in:

  • My house
  • My child’s education
  • My car
  • Moe’s
  • Books and courses
  • My small group
  • My kid’s activities
  • Not enough dates with my wife

I look at this list and feel the pull to love differently.  I feel the desire to give from what I have and what I love.  Love not shared is not love at all.

Who and what do you love?