How do you view New Years?  A fresh start, a clean slate, a new year with no mistakes in it, unblemished and pure as the driven snow… 

All of these descriptors have one thing in common: they uphold an absence of errors as a desirable state.   As poetic or quaint as this may sound, this is actually not positive framing.  I don’t know where this obsession with perfection came from but I’m doing my part to do away with it.  Here, in no particular order, are some favorite quotations about the beauty of errors.

Certain flaws are necessary for the whole. It would seem strange if old friends lacked certain quirks. ~Goethe

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. ~Henry van Dyke

Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence. ~Rosalynn Carter

 It has to be okay to stumble while we take on new challenges and stretch our performance abilities in the new year.  Read Leading from Behind to see how this impacts team development.  Let’s go make some mistakes!

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5 thoughts on “Embracing imperfection

  1. It is difficult to abandon perfection, a personality trait that takes hold (or not) early in life. And it is knowing that we are not perfect that is often the cause of eroded self-confidence. Even so, it is when mistakes reveal the flaws that I, too, learn the most.

    Sharon

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  2. Doing away with perfectionism is a challenge in itself!

    I think part of what drives us to seek perfection is that we’re not taught it’s okay to fail. At least, it doesn’t come up in so many words the way that success does, and if it is said, it doesn’t do much to dispel the feeling that you should have done better.

    We all want to succeed and do our very best, and it can be a disheartening feeling when a learning curve rears its toothy head before you while someone’s tapping their foot impatiently, waiting for you to hurry up and get things done.

    Yet we learn so much more from our mistakes than our successes. I know I have. The trick is to see it while it happens instead of waiting for hindsight.

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    1. Great insight, Becky. As I read your comment it occurred to me that we need two qualities to be present in order to learn in real time: curiosity and trust. Curiosity to keep asking what could be better and trust so that we feel safe to say what we are perceiving.

      Thanks for participating.
      Susan

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