The best moment of my life was 14 years ago today.

If you asked me what the best day of my life was I couldn’t tell you. My wedding day was spectacular. So was the day I first met my wife Dawn. And our first date. And the day I asked her to marry me. And the day we moved into our first home.

There were days snowmobiling and riding roller coasters that were thrilling and made me feel as alive as a human can feel.

There was the Father’s Day when my family and I hiked on Mt. Rainier and then watched a purple-sky sunset at Mt. St. Helens that was epic.

I had a day in Iceland that never turned to night. (And I ate like 12 lamb dogs with crispy onions.)

The day I broke the state record in the discus, 8 months after ACL reconstruction surgery was indescribable.

But I don’t have a clear and obvious answer to which day was the best of the best.

But if you asked me what the best moment of my life was I have an easy answer. It was the moment my son Johann was born. But I didn’t choose the moment. The moment chose me.

At the time Dawn and I had a 21-month old daughter named Ava. And right up until we met baby #2 we didn’t know the baby’s gender. In fact, we didn’t find out the gender of any of our 3 children before they were born. That surprise is perhaps the greatest surprise of your life. And Dawn and I are both don’t-eat-the-marshmallow types.

Minutes before the baby arrived the delivering doctor asked us what male and female names we had chosen. We told her Johann and Giselle. (Although I was tempted to say Tina and Uncle Rico.) And then, when the new addition to our team made the grand entrance, the Doctor held the baby up like Simba in “The Lion King” and declared, ‘It’s a Johann!’

When she said those 3 words, and I saw the evidence for myself, and double-checked to make sure I was not looking at the umbilical cord, I was filled with more joy than I could ever imagine feeling.

However, it was not because the baby was a boy. It was because I now had everything I could ever want. Finding a spouse, and then having both a daughter and a son were out of my control. The universe would have to provide those things for me. And I would have been perfectly happy to have 2 daughters. But in that moment when Johann was born, I immediately realized that I had everything I ever wanted. Or ever could want. I checked all the boxes. I had the complete set. I felt like I had won the lottery. And in many ways I had.

Happy 14th Birthday Joh! Thanks for being a Johann. And for making my life full and complete.

A lesson from my son on the value of mistakes.

Over the past week my family and I enjoyed a spring break trip to Texas. On Good Friday my son Johann and I got up early to nab poolside seats for our last day before returning home. In fact, we got down to the pool before it was open for the day. But there was no moose out front telling us the pool was closed for two weeks for cleaning and repairs. So we found some Adirondack chairs near an outdoor fireplace, and sat and talked, like fathers and sons should.

Good Talk Russ

Good Talk Russ

Johann is one of my favorite people to talk to because his mind dances. We talked about whether Star Wars took place in the past or the future. While I said it all seemed futuristic, he reminded me that it took place long ago in a galaxy far, far away. We covered funny Chris Pratt lines from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And we talked about the leaning tower of Pisa.

The Leaning Tower

As we discussed the leaning tower from a long time ago in a country far, far away, Johann shared an interesting observation. He said, ‘You know Dad, no one would care about the tower if it wasn’t leaning. It is the leaning that makes it interesting.’

I asked Johann if he thought there was a life lesson to be learned from the leaning tower. He quickly replied,

‘Even our failures can be a work of art.’  -Johann Albrecht (age 11)

Key Takeaway

Don’t beat yourself up over your failures. They make you and your story more interesting. Make the lean in your tower work for you. Make a wrong turn at Albuquerque, then make that your catch phrase. Don’t avoid your mistakes. Embrace them. They are often blessing that pay dividends for years, or even centuries to come.

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