A couple weeks ago I had one of those days. One of those days where every move I make produces the exact opposite result I had in mind. With each floundering step, burnt loaf of bread, and wasted minute I wished more and more for a restart button on the day.
I'd venture to say no matter what our work, we all have days like this. For me, its a trash can full of burnt bread. Maybe for you it's forgetting to prepare for that meeting with a client, missing pertinent details in your lab experiment, saying all the wrong things at all the wrong times to all the wrong people, reaching an insurmountable wall of writers' block. If you're anything like me, these days call into question every decision you've made up to that point. Dramatic, I know. But I am confident I'm not alone in this.
By now you may be wondering why I'm telling you, my customer, this. Expounding upon my occasionally floundering certainly undermines an image of perfection so often touted in the world of sales.
It's true. Vulnerability is not common in business, but I'm not a fan of false images of perfection in any sphere. And as I processed my terrible day with fellow craft workers and entrepreneurs I was reminded of the fruitfulness of failure and I seemed important to share this wisdom.
Micah, farmer at Plowshare Produce, shared his stories of hardship and stories that inspire him. Stories of resilient farmers who stayed faithful to their work through huge setbacks--fires, drought, huge crop failure.
Jay, co-owner of McBurney Manor where I bake and a craft woodworker for over 20 years, reminded me that we need these days. They inspire us to hone our craft, remaining humble and committed to the work we've been gifted.
Within the pages of a beautiful novel, A Place on Earth, Wendell Berry writes about a father teaching his son:
"I remember the first crop of his own that Virgil ever tried to raise... There was an awful rain one night after his crop had been out, I guess, two weeks. I hear it begin and lay awake listening to it, knowing what was bound to be happening. And the next morning I said, 'Let's go look at your crop.' So we went, and walked all the way around it. It was hurt. Bound to have been. There's no way to plow sideling ground so it'll hold in a rain like that. 'Virgil,' I said, 'this is your fault. This is one of your contributions to the world.' That was hard for me to say. And he took it hard. I saw he was about to cry... I knew he was hating the day he ever thought of raising a crop, ready to give up.
"Finally I put my arm around him and I said,
" 'Be sorry, but don't quit. What's asked of you now is to see what you've done, and learn better.' "
Whatever your work may be, be it farming, higher education, songwriting, nursing, counseling, parenting, accounting, woodworking, researching, painting, policy making, or baking may you never stop honing your skills, learning from your mistakes and using your work to better the place you are.