Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The lesson of failure.

FB's in karate. He's good, too. A purple belt. But he found out last night that he's not ready to belt test next week at the end of session. This is the second time he hasn't made it to third degree brown belt, and he's very disappointed. Like woke up this morning with total sadface and came over to sit in my lap.

I hate to see him distraught like that, hate to see him emotionally struggle. This belt level is really tough, but he also knows he could have worked harder. Practiced more often, read through his Japanese flashcards every once in a while. It would have made a difference. But much as I hate to see him hurting, I can't help but appreciate that he's learning a valuable lesson: The lesson of failure.

I was a manager at Starbucks twice. The first time was shortly after starting with the company, and I really had no idea what I was doing. I thought if I put in long days and worked crazy hard, if I was a rules girl and adhered every time to every guideline, if my walls and baseboards were spotless, that I would be successful. Okay, those things can work to an extent, but there's much more involved. Like rallying your team and making them a cohesive unit. Like sticking up for them to your boss. Like taking the blame for mistakes instead of making excuses. Like being playful and having fun and making that the tone of your business. Being a leader, I guess. I didn't do those things, or at least not consistently, and couldn't understand why my boss had no confidence in me.

I stepped down and was bitter for a long time at my failure. It took me a couple years, no lie, to get over the bitterness and recognize that the experience had offered me an opportunity to learn and grow. To better prepare myself for the kind of manager I wanted to be in the future. And when I did again go into management, I like to think I killed. Our sales weren't always the best, the store was never as clean as my boss's boss wanted, but we had a freaking happy crew. We sang on the floor (Yankee Bayonet duets), danced behind the counter (Australia), and worked as a team. We loved and were loved back by our customers.

I'd learned that it was more important to create an environment than to complete a list of tasks. That success is defined in how you uplift people rather than how much you make. I had no idea that first time around- I had to fail to *get* it. And I'm so glad I did.

So FB doesn't belt test this time. But he understands what he has to do in order to get there. In the meantime, there's a spot on my lap for him. Because he's not too old a boy to appreciate being held.

Listening to: Menomena "Mines"


  1. I love that he came for a cuddle...no matter how big my kids get, I hope my lap is bigger. I hope your son's sad panda face is a happy one soon.

  2. Absolutely. Even as an adult, my dad used to have me sit on his lap so he could hold me when I was upset. You know, it always helped. Sometimes we just need that kind of love.
    And he's doing better already. We've devised a plan of attack. Being proactive always helps. And school's out, so there's the joy and anticipation of summer to look forward to.
    Thanks for visiting, girlfriend!

  3. "...no matter how big my kids get, I hope my lap is bigger." I love that like crazy, Kristina.