Why Imperfect Is Better Than Perfect

Today's the day.  I've been waiting for this day for months.  I've been waiting every since I heard the title of Shauna Niequist's new book, Present Over Perfect.  You see, I don't like to admit it, but I tend to lean more toward perfectionist.  I tend to lean more toward trying to get things right the very first time.  

Shauna's book wasn't the spark for me.  The spark for me was my coaching certification classes.  Early on in the process, my coach trainers started talking about the Committed Ways of Being.  The idea here is that we get to choose how we show up in the world.  We get to choose how we want to present and interact with others.  Among those CWBs, as we nicknamed them, was BEING PRESENT. 

I was intrigued because as an introvert I'm not always present with my people.  I am sometimes in my mind.  Thinking.  And thinking.  And then thinking some more.  Sometimes they're talking and I'm still thinking.  And I realized during my coaching certification that this is an area I needed to work on.  Just being present.  In the moment.  With my people. 

Recently, the other half of that book title has come to the forefront of my life.  I've been working on my food issues.  Trying to let go of needing food when my emotions run rampant.  I've been working on eating healthier to care for myself.  

In the midst of all this soul searching, I've come to the realization that some of those emotions come out because I have erected a wall.  And behind that wall is someone who needs to do things perfectly or she doesn't do them at all. 

I focus on doing things right.  I don't like to admit my mistakes.  I'm okay as long as I've done it right.  All this is keeping me on a cycle of perfectionism.  An unwillingness to show up not having all the answers or being able to do things perfectly.  In many ways, it's keeping me from moving forward in my business and life because I want things perfect and not judged by others before I put them out there.  

Doing things right is not just a standard thing for me, it has become the way I find validation and approval from others.  I have sought to do things right so others will like me.  I've sought to do things right so others won't judge me.  I've sought to do things right so I can feel okay about me. 

How about you?  I know not all of you seek perfection, but have any of you been afraid to make a mistake at work or in a relationship?  Have any of you felt a long list of things you must get done over being present for the people in your world?  Where do you fall in the present over perfect spectrum? 

For the last several months, I've been working on laying down perfect and embracing perfection.  Some days, I'm doing really well.  I'm finally moving on some things in my business and putting some things out there marketing-wise, even though I know they could be better. I could have a better plan.  I could have less typos.  

Other days, I have work to do.  I look at my experiences and say they could have been better instead of enjoying the imperfection of how they are.  I loose track of what's great about being me and in this moment.  

Saturday I attended a coaching networking session at my coaching school and the topic which was perfection vs. imperfection.  Here's a couple of things I learned: 

Imperfection Makes Us Human

When we can embrace imperfection, we become more relatable to the world around us.  We know this in our minds, right?  Only Jesus was perfect.  We are imperfect.  But sometimes, our hearts....

Our hearts are afraid to be vulnerable so we protect them by seeking perfection.  We protect our hearts by trying to live up to expectations.  We protect our hearts from rejection and judgment of others. 

But when we protect our hearts, we miss out on true connection.  The type of connection that gives others the permission to make mistakes.  The kind of connection where we inspire each other to keep stepping out in faith even when it's imperfect.  The kind of connection we have when we find we are loved not because of our accomplishments, but because of who we are in our heart. 

Imperfection Moves Us Forward

I don't know about you, but needing something to be perfect before I show the world what I have to offer has held me back in life, in relationships, and in my business. 

For example, I've been wanting to do more speaking at church events for years.  But I don't know how to approach it.  I need materials.  I need talks to give.  I need to know people.  

I've been speaking more at my own church, and to be honest, I have still not figured out the "right" way to start approaching organizations.  But with all my work on not waiting until I'm doing it right, I've realized I have to approach this situation without knowing what I'm doing.  I'm contacting some organizations.  I have a small flyer.  I'm starting with imperfect. 

If we wait until we are ready, we will be waiting the rest of our lives.
— Unkown

I'm determined to not let needing the perfect product hold me back in my business. I'm determined to not let needing the perfect level of fitness to join the gym or try a new sport (and when I say sport I mean treadmill).  I'm determined to not let my insecurity keep me from starting a new friendship or pursuing my dreams. 

Being brave when it comes to embracing imperfection allows us to stop living our fears and live out our dreams instead.  Embracing the imperfection of life allows us to experience love and grace based on who we are and not on finishing our to-do lists.  Embracing imperfection allows us to collect moments and be present with the people we love.  

Imperfection Is A Journey

We ended our networking session by talking about what it means to live imperfectly.  Imperfection, according to my coaching trainer, invites us to experiment in life.  When you and I experiment, life can get messy.  Our storyline is not a 30 minute sitcom that wraps up our challenge by the end of the commercial break.  Imperfection allows us to approach all of life knowing that imperfection is an opportunity to learn about ourselves, about God, and about others. 

Some ideas for living imperfectly include: 

  • Throw caution to the wind
    • Don't edit 
  • Look at the big picture and don't fret about the details
  • Be generous with compassion
  • Live without regrets

The journey toward embracing imperfection is not natural for me.  My knee jerk reaction is to perform.  I assess so I can "do it better" next time.  And to allow my imperfections to hide behind my pride.  

The biggest thing I learned last Saturday is that our imperfections can inspire others to live boldly,   risk vulnerability and love who God made us to be.  I want to live life boldly and inspire others to do the same. 

I'd love to hear where you are wanting to embrace the imperfect.  And while I wait to hear from you, I'll be out getting my copy of Present Over Perfect.  Just saying...