I’m Italian and grew up in a small town with a large Italian population. When I was young, our family would gather once a year and make homemade ravioli and ice cream to freeze for the year.

Recently over dinner, my friends and I were talking and one of my friends thought this would be a fun girls’ night. So, I bought a ravioli mold and a pasta roller for my mixer and had the ladies over. I even made the traditional northern Italian dipping sauce of bagna cauda for the ladies to try. Here’s what went down…

1. Asking for help: Two of us were having a tough time getting our dough less sticky. Thankfully a third, expert cook, arrived and she had our dough in rollable shape in no time.

We all need help sometimes yet too often we do not reach out. And unfortunately that leaves us in a place of not getting the support that we may need. Shame holds us back. Remember it’s okay to ask for help.

2. Reading instructions: We thought we had the roller attached to the mixer…until we turned the mixer on and the roller went flying off. Do not worry, no ladies were harmed in the process. After several additional failed attempts, one friend busted out the instructions and we were good to go in seconds.

We do not have all the answers. And we should not pretend to. Asking for directions, reading instructions, not having a clue what you are doing…it’s all good.

3. Teamwork: Have you ever used a pasta roller? That little piece of dough quickly becomes a long piece of dough that takes more than two hands to manage. We needed four and we still had issues.

There are some things that are harder, if not darn near impossible, to do alone. And guest what…you don’t have to. Working together as part of a team can often lead to greater results than working in isolation.

4. Failure is relative: Our first round, the dough was too tacky and the ravioli ended up sticking to the mold and then the plate and most fell apart before making it to be cooked. Sigh…yummy ravioli wasted.

We can view mistakes as failures or as learning opportunities. It’s all about perspective. Sure, we lost some good ravioli but we had fun in the process, learned from our mistakes, made corrections, and improved the next round. How will you view your setbacks in life?

5. Competition is not always good: On our second try, after getting the dough right, two friends decided to really stuff the ravioli. One friend said, “Well, she was putting a lot of filling in, so I thought I would make mine bigger.” (See #6 for their take.) I joked that maybe competing over who fills the ravioli more might not be a good idea since we were getting quite large ravioli.

Competition can be great and it can be destructive. Ask why you are competing, for what, what is the purpose, is it working for you? Sometimes we compete just to compete and it can have disastrous consequences. That might be dramatic when talking about ravioli but you understand what I’m getting at.

6. Don’t assume someone knows what they are doing: So in the above (#5) example, the one friend claimed that she started putting more filling in because she saw the other friend do so and thought that she knew what she was doing. Come on…we were making ravioli, no one knew what we were doing.

We often make assumptions about the behaviors, intentions, capabilities, etc. of others. We assume based upon our prior life experiences, instead of being curious, asking questions, and challenging others. Do not blindly follow along.

7. Even broken, things can be good: As I said, the first batch was too tacky and the second batch was too full, so while many made it to be cooked, they also fell apart. And we ate them anyway. No, they were not the most beautiful specimens of ravioli but that did not impact the taste.

Perfection is an illusion. We are all broken in our own ways. We can feel shame or embarrassed by our cracks or we can know that we are good because of, and not despite of, our flaws.

8. Repetition can lead to perfection: Not really (see #7) because perfection does not exist. Yet, by the last round, we had some really good-looking ravioli. Practice and correcting our errors led us to be rock-star ravioli makers. We plan to start selling them so contact me to place an order 😉

When you experience setbacks, when you are frustrated or challenged, when you want to grow or change, keep practicing. Giving up means you will be stagnant. Keep trying.

9. (Bonus) Trying new things can be fun. So, invite your friends and have a cooking party. And don’t worry if a piece of the flour bag gets in the dough and you have to pick out blue paper. The ladies loved the bang cauda by the way. Life lessons aside, it was a blast.

Want more from the life lessons series?

Click here for Life Lessons From The Beer Tent

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