Friday, January 30, 2015

January Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection

"I am over trying to be all things to all people. Really, I am."

I figure if I tell myself that over and over again, perhaps I will start to believe it and then eventually actually practice it. I’m getting better at it, but I have a lot of work to do.

One of the interesting personal dilemmas I face every day is my role at LeaderShape. Because I have a title along side my name, I get attributed (both good and bad, but mostly good) to all of the wonderful things that LeaderShape represents. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect and represent LeaderShape in a pristine way as if that were even possible.

Then a funny thing happened to me. I got older and I went through a pretty traumatic life experience. That will straighten you up real quick and give you a dose or reality whether you are ready for it or not. I found out soon that I don’t have it figured out, I don’t know all the answers, and that I can’t solve all of the world’s problems on my own. Even more personally, I can’t be all things to my children or myself. That was a sobering thought.

The realization that life is not sterile or conducted in a cocoon can be hard to accept. It is messy. It is hard. It is unexpected. And yet it is wonderful. In fact, the craziness is what makes it wonderful.

I am such a huge fan of Brene Brown. If you remotely find yourself in a similar position, I recommend reading her book, The Gifts ofImperfection. The subtitle is what resonated with me even more…"let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are." Pretty obvious why I was drawn to the book, huh? Brene provides a guide to becoming more resilient, accepting, compassionate, and present. She provides ten guideposts to help us all come to appreciate our imperfections and then develop habits that can help us embrace our authenticity.

We can all use a deep breath, letting the shoulders drop down for a bit, and to smile a smile that says, “I am not alone in this battle to figure everything out.” Maybe the next thought you have is that you don’t really have to.

I used to open up national sessions of the Institute with an inspired, “this will be the best week of your life!” sort of talk. Given the last couple years and my continued walk toward accepting my imperfections, I have changed that talk. I now welcome participants to those sessions with the same beginning and then I follow it with, “…and I hope it is one of the most challenging, frustrating, rewarding, (etc.) weeks of your life. In other words, I hope it is real.” Seems to get a little different reception when I set it up that way. You can feel the pressure in the room dissipate.

Read the book (it is quite short) and embrace who you are. Lead by living your life with all the weird and wonderful stuff that makes you human.

We would probably have a whole lot more patience for those that haven’t reached that point yet and are still trying to be perfect. We can silently tell them, “good luck with that” and continue along our path of imperfection.

Hope you have a great and challenging day.


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