Learning to Fail Forward

Asulon Collective featuring Gerard Blanding!

My friend Gerard is absolutely dynamic! He’s a gifted creative, a fantastic musician and crazy fun. More than anything else though, he’s a hardcore people lover and encourager. I had the amazing opportunity to work with him for a few months – he transformed the environment and brought so much value to the workplace culture with 3 simple things: a bright, contagious smile, intentionally asking “how are you?” and then genuinely listening to your reply, and BIG HUGS!

His joyful authenticity and positive attitude attracts others to him. Gerard seizes every opportunity to love others and leaves them feeling uplifted. He carries peace with him everywhere he goes while boldly living life!

In recent days, you might find him painting, cooking, baking, dancing, having deep talks or working on your future favorite song. He also recently started sending personalized watercolor art to others for a few dollars with encouraging notes. Now he’s begun sending out home baked cookies (YUM)! Not too long ago he, along with another lovely friend, hosted a live show on Instagram about Racial Restoration. I was so grateful for their vulnerability and I learned a lot from them both. I have a lot of respect for him and know he has much valuable insight on “Asulon.” 

Let’s lean in, hear what G has to share with us all, and show him our support! You can connect with him for delightful conversation, delicious cookies, and dance-worthy tunes on Instagram: @itsgerardalain.

G: Before I answer any questions I just want to say Emily how grateful I am for you and the kind words you have said about me. I don’t take them for granted. I jokingly call you Empress Emily all the time, but the truth is… i’m not joking around. You carry such a peaceful version of power that only comes from the Lord – and He will continue to gift you more responsibility and blessings because of the way you steward what you have now. I am so excited for your new venture – Thank you for being so gracious and kind for allowing me to contribute to the following, and I am so honored to answer your questions.

E: When you hear the word refuge, what do you first think of?

G: Refuge to me is a place of safety.

E: Has someone or something been a refuge to you in your life? You could tell us a story about that experience and how it shaped you into who you are now. What words or actions have stuck with you?

G: This one’s hard to keep it really short because in my lifetime there have been way too many people who have spoken life into me, and have been such safe places for the depths of my soul. 

I will share some thing one of my mentors back  at my home in Atlanta told me in 2016 that I still carry with myself every day.

I had just graduated college and he took me out to dinner to celebrate. For context, this individual is very established in the education system in his county, has a high position of power and is one of the most graceful, wise, passionate, driven men I know. He’s a father, a husband, involved in his church, and is working his PhD all the same time. What I’m trying to say is… he’s got it together.

With that being said, he asked me what I wanted to do now that I was out of college. I gave him some crap answer that I thought he would like about getting a job, saving money, buying a house, and living the American dream.

After I answered, he paused and looked at me slightly disappointed because he knew I wasn’t being truly honest. 

So he reframed his question: 

“Gerard, if you could do anything in this world with no limitations… What would you do?”

I thought about it intently… I hesitantly answered.

“I guess…  I’d want to pursue music.”

For context – at this time in my life, I had released my first EP  “Relic” a year before in 2015 and I started making music in 2013 but it was strictly a hobby with a deep hidden secret dream to for it for real.

I was afraid to give him this answer because here is a man who is established in his career, who has a stable home life and the consensus about a career in music or art is that it is an unstable path that doesn’t promise anything. In short – IT’S A SCARY AND COMMONLY UNSTABLE PATH TO WALK! 

After I answered, he quickly asked me nonchalantly: 

“So why not do THAT?”

I confusingly I blinked at him just like Dora the Explorer – BECAUSE – This man represents stability, and he is suggesting that pursuing music – my dream that I’ve had since a little boy – could be a possibility to go after. 


I hesitantly answered “I don’t know, so many people try and fail…”

He then quickly responded:

“I don’t know if you’ve heard of the concept of ‘failing forward’ but essentially what it is, is the fact that you will never get to where you need to get in life if you don’t fail. Failure is only an opportunity to learn and grow and move in the direction you need and learn lessons to equip you to use in your future.”

Y’all… when he told me this, my world changed.

After that conversation, I truly understood what he meant. I could never fail… I can only grow if I choose to see it that way. 

I was living in Atlanta at the time and a year later with:

  1. This concept in mind
  2. A burning in my soul from the Lord
  3. A childhood dream

… I took a leap and moved to Nashville with no job and only 2 friendships.

It has been 3 1/2 years now and I know I’m exactly where I need to be in life. And a big reason outside of the Lord, is this specific mentor. I feel nothing but deep gratitude for him and his wisdom in that moment because it is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

E: Have others either in the past or currently experienced refuge through you somehow? 

G: I’ve been extremely intentional about texting and calling my deepest relationships and continuing to cultivate them, in this time, because as we all know… It can be hard out here. So it brings me joy to be a gift to my loved ones.

E: Could share your perspective on what it means to be a place of refuge for another person?

To me, it’s proving to the other person that you are a safe place. Practically, that means truly listening to what they have to say, respecting their confidentiality, and being consistent and intentional about making yourself available.

E: How would you like to live out “Asulon” in the future? What you are dreaming about, hoping for, or working on and how does it connect?

G: 2020 for me, similarly to many other humans on this planet, was somewhat of a challenging year.

        … But God

I started painting watercolor hearts and sending them to people out of a place of heartache. I felt that the only way to medicate the aching was to be an example of what I was desiring. I’m so grateful to God for the gifts He’s given me, because I am so excited to share those gifts with His other created beings.

In the same vein of intention, I started baking cookies to not only fund my music on the side on top of my full-time job, but to spread that same joy and love the God has given to me.

My mantra lately has been: “Just take it a day at a time.”

Emily, once again thank you for this opportunity to share a sliver of my life on your platform. I am so excited for what this is going to turn into and I encourage you and your readers to “fail forward” and not be afraid to take the risks that God has equipped you to take!

Thank you, again, G for sharing your perspective and insight with us!

As a reminder, you can connect with Gerard on Instagram @itsgerardalain.

Edited by: Alida Cassinari@hacassinari
Permission to use photo from Gerard Blanding.

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