Moving forward by utilizing what's close


“You see my problem is this
I’m dreaming away
Wishing that heroes, they truly exist”
“Oops!…I Did It Again” - Britney Spears

After the success of her debut studio album “…Baby One More Time,” teenage pop star Britney Spears waited less than a calendar year to release her follow-up album, of which this song is the title cut.

The song peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, though it held down the top spot in Canada for six weeks and similarly topped national charts in multiple places around the globe.

Ironically, it was crew members on the set of the video for the song who needed to repeatedly say, “Oops!”

Britney was struck multiple times (reports range from two times to six) by falling cameras in the hastily-created set of the video.

The song describes a woman who views love as something to toy with, not take seriously, so when she finds herself having led on another guy to the point of him expressing his love to her, she responds that it was a mistake, a misinterpretation of her intentions with him.

Long-time painter Bob Ross was known for putting too much paint on one part of the canvas in one of his paintings, created on camera for his public broadcasting show, and then working with the new direction of the additional paint, referring to it as a “happy little accident.” The phrase became so identified with Ross that he actually included the phrase in the title of a book.

As anyone who has ever attempted to learn a new skill, the phrase, “perfection is the enemy of progress,” is an apt line to use when beginning something new. I consistently work with my daughters to explain that if they make a mistake in a song on the piano during a recital to just keep pushing forward to the end of the song.

Going back to correct our mistakes is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, however, like the example of a piano recital, there’s a time and a place.

Part of the example I was given growing up was listening to my mother practice songs through from start to finish when practicing music for the next Sunday in church. Once she’d played it through, she would go back and then work on “trouble” areas.

Most musicians have experienced something similar when putting together an impromptu arrangement. You play or sing through the piece in completion (unless the song entirely falls apart at some point along the way) and then make mental notes to return to work more intentionally on those spots.

Imperfections in life certainly don’t mean that success wasn’t or isn’t being found.

Take the example of my favorite sport, baseball.

Ty Cobb once held more than a 10-point advantage in the best career batting average before Negro Leagues statistics were included into the Major League statistical database.

Now the great Oscar Charleston is only 0.0014 behind him, .3662 to .3648, with many of Charleston’s early - and best - seasons still being researched and expanded into the official record.

Even if Oscar passes Cobb’s mark based on new evidence, it likely won’t exceed .370. To put it in a better mathematical term, the two best hitters in the history of professional baseball had a successful hit less than 37% of the time.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that they were out the other 63% of the time, but when the goal of every batter is to get a safe hit, being successful less than 37% of the time would put you in the Hall of Fame!

To take it a step further, among the top ten players in career strikeouts as a batter - so definitely making an out, not your goal when you come to the plate - three are in the Hall of Fame, another one will soon be elected, and two more will likely get in through the Veteran’s Committee, meaning that of the top 10, six may well be Hall of Fame players.

Those ten players who have struck out the most in the history of the game? They average 511 career home runs as well.

As the father of young, learning athletes, having them experience “failure” is an impressive motivator. If every time you get on the wrestling mat, you’re simply bigger and stronger than the competition, you’ll win plenty of matches, but not necessarily become a better wrestler. It typically takes mistakes to make the adjustments and/or put in the work needed to take the next step as a competitor.

I was blown away this week to watch a video of President Joe Biden calling the parents of Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, one of the three United States soldiers who were killed in a drone attack in Jordan.

I certainly don’t agree with all of his policies, but President Biden nailed this one. He didn’t do a quick phone call to thank the family for their family member’s service and sign off…not in the least.

The President began the phone call by expressing the nation’s sympathy, then immediately shifted the conversation to talk about losing a child in military service with the parents. He explained the grief process that he and many other parents who have gone through the loss have been through. He encouraged the parents to surround themselves with good people that can support them in the tough times to come days, weeks, and months out.

In the end, he asked permission to accompany the family to the return of their daughter’s body to the U.S. this coming weekend. He knew the family had asked media to give them space that day already, and he wanted to respect that, so he asked…as the President…whether it would be okay to come with them that day to pay respects.

Most of all, he expressed to the family that the goal of the country should be to do everything we can to keep a soldier safe while in uniform, but that if they make the ultimate sacrifice, that the family is taken care of in their stead.

When the mistakes or down times inevitably come, like the character in Britney’s song, we all too often seek out a “hero” or a certain type of response that will solve things for us…we think. However, that search often leaves us overlooking those people and resources nearest to us.

The negative things are going to come, but if we look around to those closest to us to pull us through, we can simply call those bumps in the road our own “happy little accidents” and work to create something beautiful with them.