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Embrace Imperfection

By Claudette Rowley

Does perfectionism plague you?
Do you wish you could loosen up and embrace "good enough"?
Do you procrastinate?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, I encourage you to consider the merits of imperfection. In our culture, we are steeped in the idea that if it's not perfect, we've failed, something's flawed or just gone wrong. In fact, the dictionary definition of imperfection talks about flaws, weaknesses and a state of faultiness. I agree, on the surface, that's what imperfection looks like. But here's the truth: imperfection can be liberating.

The magic of imperfection lies in looking below the surface. Because we all know, at some level, that life is a deeply imperfect enterprise. It always has been, and I suspect that it always will be. Once we embrace that truth, many of our structures, beliefs and myths about perfection fall away like the scaffolding around a space shuttle.

What stops us from embracing imperfection? I've noticed that two basic beliefs are the main culprits. The first belief is "things should look a certain way and if they don't, there's a problem." The second belief follows closely on the heels of the first: "there's one right way to do things".

These beliefs obscure our ability to adjust our view. When you shift your lens to look beneath the surface of imperfection, you may notice an overlooked detail, beautiful vision or new possibility. It is this perspective that allows us to listen to ourselves, to see how the pieces of our lives fit together differently than we might have expected and that shifts our focus into one of clarity. If you watch what's really going on in your life, you'd be amazed. In our quest for perfection and our desire to meet our expectations, we miss much of what's available to us at any moment.

For example, good ideas often come to me in the shower. During a recent morning shower, an idea for another book popped into my head. My process was interesting to observe: I was upset that I hadn't received an email that I'd been waiting for, I was stressed and I was invested in the fact that things should look a certain way. I knew that I was attached to an outcome and yet still couldn't let it go. Then in the middle of my shower, several thoughts converged in my mind and sparked the next book idea. I was ecstatic. If I hadn't experienced that set of "imperfect" circumstances, I wouldn't have gotten the idea.

How can you embrace imperfection in your life? Instead of asking why, ask what and how. In other words, when faced with a situation that's less than ideal or you want something you're not sure how to attain, determine what you want and how you can get it. Understand the power of letting life unfold of its own accord; allow yourself to notice the energetic flow around you and choose to step into it.

Here are some signs that you've embraced imperfection:

  • You find yourself laughing more often
  • You experience more creativity in your life, more passion and greater sense of well-being
  • Your life has a richness, possibility or sense of joy previously limited
  • You've come to understand that being messy is a good thing

Learn to discern what can be "good enough" in your life, what can be imperfect and when excellence is required. Learn to distinguish between your true standards of excellence and your standards of perfection. Lift the veil of your expectations and see more clearly the beauty, joy and trust that were there all along.

Harness the power of imperfection.

Copyright © 2009 Claudette Rowley
Claudette Rowley, coach and author, helps professionals identify and pursue their true purpose and calling in life. Learn more at Claudette Rowley.com.

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