Failing forward with Kintsugi

Last month I dropped a large ceramic planter, resulting in two large cracks from top to bottom. I was mad at myself for being clumsy, for breaking this pot that I loved.

Rather than throw the pot away, and give in to my inner critic, I decided to try Kintsugi, the Japanese practice of repairing broken items with an adhesive mixed with gold or silver. Kintsugi is the general concept of highlighting or emphasizing imperfections, visualizing the repairs as an additive or an area to celebrate or focus on, rather than absence or missing pieces.

Applying the gold resin gave me a chance to reconsider my perspective, to slow down, and work with focus and appreciation. I had time to acknowledge the break, my part in contributing to it, and what I could do differently to avoid a similar mishap in the future.  And now the planter’s gold streak is a visible imperfection that adds to our shared story.

My gardening mishap made me think about the importance of compassion at work. These are difficult times for everyone. Mistakes will be made, deadlines missed, supply chains interrupted. We can choose how we respond when things don’t go as planned. Showing up with patience, love, and compassion is like applying a beautiful gold resin.  In the new year, I hope we bring our perfect imperfections into the light, celebrate our vulnerability, and learn together to build workplaces where everyone can thrive.