We like it there because parking is generally better and it isn't as crowded, yet we're a short walk from Thrasher's French Fries and Grotto's Pizza. (Now you will understand our definition of 'A Great Day at The Beach'.)
I'm amazed at the erosion of beach sand. The Boardwalk is gone, and there are stacks of wood everywhere, covered by piles of snow and surrounded by trucks and fork lifts and back hoes and other equipment.
The construction was scheduled to be completed by mid-March. That's not going to happen. Hopefully, it will be completed before Memorial Day weekend - the first big weekend marking the beginning of the Summer Season - a very important time for everyone who makes their living in "The Nation's Summer Playground".
I love to take long walks by the ocean - it helps me sort through my thoughts and emotions. One of our daughters will be starting a new position soon and met with the Board of Directors. One of them asked her a question which startled her. She had written to tell me of it and to work through some of its implications.
I had been working on how to respond to her. Walking in the aftermath of the storm seemed an even more appropriate venue to sort out an answer.
It was too cold to walk for very long on the beach. The wind was pretty strong. I felt as if I were being slapped across the face and body by a whip made of icy wire. So, I took the question posed by one of our daughters to my morning walk/run.
The man who posed the question is in the top twenty of the wealthiest people in America. Apparently, people like to point out that status about him. Perhaps that helps to put this situation into context.
As the group assembled around the board room table, he opened the conversation by asking, "What are the 10 biggest failures you've had in life?" She was stunned by the question and, somewhat reluctant to respond to it at her very first meeting with her new board said, "Gee, I don't know. I'll have to think about that."
The man responded in obvious shock. "You don't know what your 10 biggest failures are?" he thundered. "Why, I keep a card listing the 10 biggest failures I've made in my life taped to the mirror in my bathroom and I read them every morning."
Later, our daughter asked, "What do you make of his question? What was he asking, really? What would you say are your 10 biggest failures?"
I'll talk with our daughter on my ride home this afternoon. Here's some of what I plan to say.
I suppose this man, one of the wealthiest in the country, delights to talk about his failures in public. It may send one of several messages -
See? I may be rich but I'm human.
Or: See? I may be rich but I'm humble enough to admit my mistakes.
Or: See? I may be rich, but you can be too if you learn from your mistakes.
None of those things are bad. Indeed, I hear an obviously very successful man sending out a message that success is often born of lots of failed attempts. And, that it's okay.
In fact, I applaud him for his humility - although I think it may raise a spiritual question or two about the humility of a wealthy man who needs to be reminded about his failure every morning and to let people know that he does. Sounds like there may be some anxiety lurking just under that humility.
Which is also understandable. It's one thing to become one among the top 20 wealthiest men in the country. It's quite another to maintain that lofty status.
I remember my very first management position at a hospital. At the end of the year budget report, I discovered that I was $10,000 over budget. That made no sense to me. I had been on budget every month. Where had that $10,000 gone?
I was worried sick and deeply embarrassed as I walked into a meeting with the VP of my department. I fretfully told him of my situation and died a little bit when a deep furrow crossed his brow. He got up from behind his desk and went over to the window and stared out across the parking lot.
I was certain, when he turned to come back to his desk, that he was going to tell me that I was fired. I can still hear the grandfather clock in the corner of his office, ticking away each painful, long second he was at that window.
Finally, he sat down at his desk, looked at me kindly and said, "Well, if you are making mistakes, I guess I know you are working. You can't make a mistake if you're not working."
I sighed a deep sigh of relief as he said, "Let's go over those figures again."
Turns out, I had put a decimal point in the wrong place. The budget balanced perfectly. I've long since forgotten the exact nature of my mistake, by I'll never, ever forget his kindness and generosity.
I learned something about myself in that moment, but I learned more about how to be a good manager - a good person. That there is always more to the story than what's on paper. That you have to go behind and underneath what's on paper to find the truth. That there is more value in human relationships than monetary failures. That success is often built on failure because there are always lessons to be learned from the failures.
That's part of the value of human work and human lives.
Those were critically important lessons that have stayed with me and guided me in my professional and personal life.
I plan to tell our daughter about my mistake - certainly not the biggest professional mistake I've ever made, but one that taught me one of the greatest lessons.
And, I think, that's the point.
I don't think anything is gained by listing your 10 biggest failures on a card and taping it to your bathroom mirror so that you can look at it as you start your day.
I do think it's an important exercise to look over your 10 biggest failures and write down the lesson or lessons you have learned from each one.
I think beginning each day with a reminder of what is important is more important than being reminded of your failures - unless, of course, your nature is such that you need a daily lesson in humility.
In the aftermath of the storms of life, it is important to take stock of your situation and learn the lessons you probably couldn't have learned any other way.
The "Blizzard of 2010" has renewed my respect for Mother Nature. I've learned that, if you are going to live close to the water, it's not enough to be awed by its beauty. You've got to be prepared to be humbled by its power.
Years ago, when we first bought Llangollen, someone gave me one of those 'beachy' signs as a house warming present which I keep in my bathroom. It says,
"If you're lucky enough to live near the water, you're lucky enough."I feel blessed to be near one of God's creations that always affords me the possibility of learning new things about the majesty of God's power and abundant grace and the miracle of the constant renewal of life.
It is here that I learn deeper meaning to the words of the Psalmist,
"Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,I plan to tell my daughter that there are blessings to be gained from the aftermath of failure, so not to be afraid of failing. A wise person will not dwell on the failure, but look for the blessing. A wealthy person will count those blessings among her greatest treasures.
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Be still, and know that I am God;"
Indeed, I think that's the best definition of success.