That Moment From Failure When You Truly Get What Matters Most

For the past few days, I’ve taken a break from chats, blogs and constant connectivity to soak in the greatness of being a mother, daughter, aunt, sister and friend. While I am all of those things all of the time, there’s something inherently fulfilling about primarily basking in the glow of their collective auras.

The balance of career and family is a necessary yet tough road to travel. To my family, my career has always been my priority. My actions definitely didn’t help those thoughts. At the same token, in my mind…the sacrifice was necessary. My education and career meant missing sporting events, cheer competitions, late night practices, choir concerts, speaking contest, homework help and even the “prep work” before senior prom.

Lesson 1: If your own family feels secondary to your career goals…you’re doing it wrong. 

My prioritizing has definitely improved…for sure!

This semester was filled with many highs and lows with the lowest culminating just a few days ago. My daughter, a high school honor graduate, did not perform at the level of which she is capable during semester 1 of college. She will begin her spring semester on academic probation. I’ve gone back and forth trying to understand what she was thinking…beyond the typical “first time away from home” syndrome.

Amidst angry tears, she said that college was a lot harder than she expected. She didn’t know how to study and as much as she studied, it seemed to never be enough. Each test score seemed to dip lower and lower. In one course, her assignment was literally to create a blog and write 5 postings which had to be written on varying days. She missed that assignment and after that, it was almost impossible to come back.

Prioritizing?? That idea did not exist for her. Most assignments were started and completed at the very last minute. After hours of heated discussion, it became apparent that her approach to college was no different than her approach to HS. Even in her AP course, there was no additional prep or push required. She did the work as she entered the room and earned the grade as the handout was graded.

I should’ve known what we were up against when on the first week of school she sat on a curb in tears because she couldn’t find the VA office to handle her school funding…a trip that she most certainly NEEDED to make. For the record, I found the office by googling its whereabouts on my phone from my office desk 3 hours away. She couldn’t even GOOGLE. (long sigh)

One can talk about all of the wonders that the right technology could have provided her. However, without the skills to think critically, communicate (with professors and peers), problem solve and prioritize…she had zero chance.

However, as Diana Laufenberg reminded me (I think of Diana in moments like this….so yes, she hypothetically reminded me)…

 “Failure is instructional” (lesson 2)

 As my kid blindly prepared for college, she didn’t consider that she would actually have to do “real” work nor did she realize the depth of her requirements. There has been talk of attending campus tutorials, scheduling “study time”, prioritizing “common sense” ideas like attending ALL courses and seeking additional help when needed…early. She has even asked for technology support…because surely there has got to be an easier way to manage all of those due dates than no plan at all!

She owned that her failure was in not committing. Even without the preparation, she could have done it and didn’t.

Her lesson was that clearly she needed to work a lot harder. My lesson was that I needed to be more attentive and proactive.

Lesson 3: When it matters, you do what’s needed to make it work.

Lessons learned…



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