Updated: Aug 23, 2021
It is a new decade. No matter where you look, you cannot escape ads promising a better you in two weeks. Every January, especially at the start of a new decade, most of us focus on our flaws and how to rid ourselves of them.
As I gathered with friends to discuss our proverbial New Year’s resolutions, it struck me that such a negative approach would not be beneficial to any of us. Rather, it is a particularly introspective time to reflect on self-evaluation, constructive opinions from others and alternative perspectives. When it was my turn to discuss my resolutions, I chose to describe how the Japanese art of kintsugi teaches us to learn, grow and embrace our flaws.
About Kintsugi and How it Teaches Us to
Approach Our Flaws.
While making tea when a neighbor was over, I dropped and broke my favorite mug. I asked my neighbor if she had any invisible glue I could use to repair it. She went to her apartment and returned with what she referred to as her kintsugi kit. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of using gold, silver or platinum to put together broken pottery, thereby enhancing its overall beauty. She explained that having grown up in Japan, broken pottery was very equivalent to a scar. She taught me that I needed to put aside any sentiments about fixing the object. Rather, we would be working to restore it as a stronger object. Utilizing the gold powders in the kit, it would help to showcase the flaws rather than hide them.
As we began working on the mug, we talked through how our scars shape us and lead us to growth and understanding. I came to realize two important lessons.
1. Failures and Flaws Help Us to Improve.
Just as scars help shape us and lead to our personal growth and understanding, we need to fail in order to succeed. If we start with perfection, there is no room to move anywhere or make any changes. Kintsugi taught me that displaying the fissure on my mug in a positive and open light was in fact a way to showcase our scars. It meant that I could take chances and volunteer new ideas or pilot new projects at work.
It also showed me the energies I had been channeling of the way something was ‘supposed to be,’ was really more treasured by showcasing that it needed to change and grow. In fact, the growth was synonymous with addressing problems by proposing creative and workable solutions.
2. A Kinder and Gentler Approach to Ourselves Promotes Change.
As a member of Generation X, I have worked under the leadership of several visionaries. While demanding, they were also encouraging, supportive and honest. Combined with my understanding of kintsugi, I believe that Millennials (in the aggregate) have the right philosophy - they expect a kinder and gentler work environment. Through kintsugi, we learn that abrupt and abrasive behavior in the workplace does not help foster growth. It leads us to withhold new ideas and try to patch the broken mug, again, with invisible glue. Instead, the Millennial philosophy helps us to support one another and cultivate new thinking.
It took more than six hours to work on my shattered mug. In that time, I came to understand that fixing things is not about a ‘quick start’ program. It’s a creative process that teaches us to evolve stronger from difficult situations. I could have easily gone to the store and bought a new mug. But, by working on each piece of shattered pottery, I learned to embrace my own flaws.
So, fast forward. It’s January 2020. Put down any advertisement that promises to change your physical or internal self in just fourteen days. Have a kinder and gentler approach to addressing your flaws. It will take longer than two weeks.