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My daughter is the smartest 12 year old I know. I mean, I did okay in school, but she’s amazing. She consistently scores in the 90th percentile or higher on her state standardized testing, and she’s in her school district’s gifted and talented program.

So when she got selected as student of the month from all the band students, that was no surprise. And when she got selected to represent her class in the school spelling bee, again, no surprise.


On the day of the spelling bee, the teachers gave the kids a practice round, and they all did great. But when they started the first round and she got up to the mic, my daughter did the unimaginable, the unthinkable, the impossible: she misspelled her word. And as soon as she had finished, she knew what she had done. The pain and disappointment were written across her face, and she had to fight back the tears until the round was finished and she could leave the front of the room. And when she was finally able to come sit with us, my shoulder was wet with her tears, and my father’s heart broke for her.

Here’s the thing, though, that I hope she’ll take away from this: We all make mistakes. Heaven knows I’ve made some really stupid ones. What really counts is what happens after the mistake. Do we slink away and promise ourselves that we’ll never embarrass ourselves again, or do we try again until we get it right?

When my daughter’s band teacher sent the email saying that she had been selected as student of the month, one of the character traits that she pointed out was resilience, that ability to bounce back. After the crying was finished, I showed that email to my daughter to encourage her to keep taking risks. And I know that she will, because that’s just who she is.

Now, it’s my turn. where have I hidden myself away, afraid of what people may say if I screw up? Am I afraid of what my Facebook friends or family will think of this weird music I’m making? Maybe it’s time to exercise my “resilience muscle” and let go of imagined fears. Maybe this is the time to put myself out there and take more risks.

What about you?

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