Success by Accident – The Kintsugi Path to a Fulfilling Life

By on March 12, 2016

On January 29th, I published my first book, Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life. In brainstorming ideas for the cover image, my husband recommended the idea of using a photo of kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, as perfect example of the celebration of imperfection. I loved the idea, and we set off on a search for the right image.

After a long search, we fell in love with an image on the Lakeside Pottery website. Having found no other image that could compare, I decided to take a chance and call the owner, Morty Bachar, to ask if we could use it.

Not only did Morty graciously allow us to use the image for my book cover, our conversation about kintsugi, his business, and his philosophies of life and success inspired me. I knew the connection had much more to offer than a cover photo for my book on authentic living and soulful success, so I asked if I could interview him for my next Tokyo Families article. I got much more than I bargained for.
DSC00931C (2)

Morty Bachar with wife, Patty

So who is this guy – some hippy artist with a pottery studio by a lake? Not by a long shot! Bachar spent his early career – more than two decades – as a high-level engineer, product designer and manager in the technology sector supervising the development of voice recognition, web-based training, and artificial intelligence technologies for use in retail environments.
Fast-forward to the present day and Morty, along with his wife and fellow artist, Patty Storms, can lay claim to a website that gets 8,000 unique visitors a day, helping several pottery teaching studios across the country, and creating a business they can turn on and off at will – working as much or as little as they desire doing work that they both absolutely love – custom pottery and restoration.
Suffice it to say, Morty Bachar is the epitome of a creator. Whether creating pottery, businesses, or technology, he has proven his ability to build something of value from nothing many times over.
How has he done this?

A PASSION FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE

In addition to being fascinated with the metaphor of kintsugi, it was Bachar’s passion for solving problems that cemented his love affair with kintsugi. When he began to experiment with making kintsugi pieces he quickly realized that the practice was nowhere near as simple as the concept. After many attempts that did not look right, he understood why his internet searches for information on the topic had so few good results – there is a huge financial risk to experimenting with an art form that wastes real gold!

Rather than giving up as many would have, Morty started asking how he could find a way to produce kintsugi without having to waste gold. “Perhaps this is what made me a good engineer,” he said. “When someone says that’s impossible, then I have a desire to go for it.” Using his engineering background and understanding of, polymers and bonding, the reflection of light, the properties of metals, and the techniques of grinding, he perfected a method of kintsugi that looks just like gold but is affordable both to produce and to purchase. For him, the benefits this has had for the growth of his business are secondary to the joy he gets from being able to offer this work to his customers. “Everyone who buys it has a purpose of helping someone to love themselves or others despite of flaws .” Whether because they love the philosophy of kintsugi and want a physical reminder of it, or because they want to restore a treasured object, he loves knowing that he has made this experience accessible to so many more people than it was before.

TAKE RISKS AND EMBRACE ACCIDENTS.

“I wouldn’t change anything because if I did I wouldn’t be here,” replied Morty when I asked him what wisdom he would give to his younger self. “You’ve got to do many things to build up the building blocks that you will draw on later to construct your happiness. Life is chapters. What makes you happy when you are young won’t make you happy when older. Every one of those things is building blocks that makes you who you are.”

He is also a big believer in the power of mistakes and accidents as they have been instrumental in leading him to a life that provides his ideal mix of success and fulfillment. “Sometimes ignorance and accidents take a person to a path that is more successful. Mistakes move you forward. They make you who you are. They guide you to what is next.”

Morty believes that you can’t tap into the creative possibilities of accidents if you never take risks or make mistakes. For people who don’t know what they want to do with their lives he advises, “You know if you are unhappy. It is scary to move from the known to the unknown, but if you don’t like where you are (or who you are) you have to be willing to change something. If you don’t, you will stay stagnant.”

DON’T BE ATTACHED TO YOUR CREATIONS.

One of the characteristics that is most instrumental in Morty’s ability to recover from “accidents” and embrace risks is his lack of attachment to the things that he creates. His focus is on the process of solving a problem and creating an outcome that is of value to others, rather than personal gain. When he realized, for example, that Patty was better at teaching and managing the classes and curriculum at Lakeside Pottery than he was, he stepped aside and she took over.

His philosophy of creating, letting go, and moving on to the next thing is another one of the ways he has “accidentally” become so successful as an artist. Despite the fact that initially their main source of income was pottery classes, their “adding value” philosophy led them to start posting free tutorials on various pottery techniques in response to the questions that their students were asking.

Over time, the library of hundreds of tutorials that are now available on their site turned into a powerful engine to drive traffic to their site and create a steady stream of customers for their business.

Morty had so many inspirational stories and nuggets in our interview that I couldn’t fit them all into one article, so check back next month to find out more, or contact me via my website and I will let you know as soon as the full podcast of my interview with him is available.   read part 2

Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (now available on Amazon). She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide. Five of these years were spent in Japan where the core philosophies of her work on the relationship between passion, performance and profits took shape. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates leading eastern and western thought with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations discover and thrive on their passions. She can be contacted through her website at www.kyoseiconsulting.com

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on Amazon.com). She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work helps individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. Learn about career and entrepreneur coaching programs (and download some free tools for meaningful work and living your purpose) at www.kyoseicoaching.com or their workplace transformation programs at www.kyoseiconsulting.com