For my birthday, I was given the gift of growth. It was wrapped in near misses and tied with a ribbon of humility.

The day before my birthday, a coach mentor that I am working with told me that a situation I was addressing was worse than I had thought. Hearing this feedback felt horrible. I was on my way but was further away than I realized. I needed even more intentionality and focus.

The “Friday Fab Four”

The evening of my birthday, I skippered a sailboat race. We were short-handed and the air was light. For the first time all season in this series, we didn’t win. It wasn’t because we were short-handed-our crew work was amazing, and being light should have helped us in light air. The same boat passed us twice. We didn’t have boat speed (but we did have tactics, because they had to pass us a second time!).

Wilbur Keyworth Photography

And then the day after my birthday, we had a night race. We were first around the first two marks, and second around the last four. After racing for 33 miles and eight hours, we finally passed the first-place boat around 3 am. And then the wind died even more, and in the final ghosting to the finish, we finished fourth. The boats that beat us were well-sailed – they all sailed an amazing race.

Sunset Selfie

Ouch. Nothing’s being handed to me on a silver platter, even for my birthday. If I want it, I’m going to have to earn it, to work for it.

Wow. If it was easy, would it be as meaningful? As a colleague reminded me, when you work hard for something, the “success is even sweeter.”

It’s going to take a while for me to fully unpack this present, and to figure out how exactly to get better in each of these areas. I plan to make the most of this very valuable gift.

In the meantime, huge thanks to everyone involved – my coach mentor and colleagues, my sailing team and competitors, and my friends and family who cheer me on and wish me well.