When I teach Cub Scouts knife safety I’m quick to point out the scars on my left index finger. The one closest to my hand was in Boy Scouts when I decided to cut towards my hand instead of away from it. The small one near the tip was from fooling around and not paying attention to what I was doing (to add insult to injury I was cutting a very juicy lemon… that tickled!). I point out these scars as examples of what not to do.
Over the past couple of days we’ve had an awesome and huge opportunity present itself at work. Navigating the path to the right strategy was difficult (not that I’m through it yet) and one misstep could lead to critical failure. In the past I’ve been quick to move ahead quickly, try to think my way out of any problem and react. This time I’ve remembered a valuable lesson, I took a good long look at my scars first. After looking them over I remembered past failures and mistakes, lessons learned, and better ways. Just as I was about to walk more confidently into the minefield two close friends reminded me to look at the scars I’d skipped over. I almost missed a couple of things that could have made all the difference, history almost repeated itself. Having looked over as many of the scars as I can see I’ve taken action and I’m feeling more confident of our success than ever.
Those scars were all earned through pain and failure. Mistakes and poor decisions. Poorly executed strategies and well executed but poorly thought out strategies. Each of them involved hurt, always mine, sometimes others’. While I’m not proud of the mistakes that made those scars I’m thankful for the wisdom they’ve brought. It’d be easy to glance at them and see them as ugly, but when I pause I’m reminded of their beauty. I’ve tried, I’ve failed, yet I persist and each scar makes me stronger.
Today I’m thankful for remembering to check my scars. It always hurts on the surface when I remember how it was earned, a brief flash of that pain crosses my mind. Once I take a deep breath and swallow hard I’m ready to dig deeper and remember what I learned from it. Today those memories and lessons did me well. While the results are a long ways away I’m confident that we’re on the right path.