Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection. ~ Kim Collins

 I enjoy public speaking.

But before I present, all my childhood fears come rushing back. What if I make a mistake and say something stupid? What if my research falls flat? What if they laugh at me (in all the wrong places) or even worse, don’t like me?

I’ve watched other speakers who seemed perfect. They never made mistakes. Everyone loves them!

I felt that I was going to have to be perfect to even be in the same room as them. I obsessed over the speech for weeks.

In the end, I delivered the speech. I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t get booed off the stage, either. Lesson learned: Do your best and embrace every imperfection.

How do you embrace imperfection when the world demands perfection?

We live in a world that insists people need to be a certain size and weight, they need to be strong and powerful, you must be the perfect parent to raise successful kids and businesses must never make mistakes.

So how do you fit in if you aren’t perfect?

First, I want you to realize there is no such thing as perfection!

Yet we spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to achieve it, in our personal relationships, in our business lives, in our spirituality…

The simple reason we get sucked into trying for perfection is we believe perfection will protect us. If we look perfect, act perfectly and live perfectly, we’ll avoid the pain of judgment, shame, and blame. Or so we think.

The illusion that perfection is possible creates a need to feel worthy of love and belonging if only we were perfect.

This often makes us feel like we are never thin, beautiful, smart, talented, popular, admired, and/or accomplished enough.

You feel guilty if you aren’t working your tail off to be perfect. You’re constantly telling yourself that if you fail to be perfect, you are a bad person. If you let your kids down, you’re not perfect. If you don’t do the right thing every time, you’re a bad person. If you fail at something, you’re unworthy. If you don’t do something perfectly, people won’t like you. All these guilty thoughts lead to blame, shame, and feeling inadequate.

“The truth is, people are actually drawn to others who are real and down to earth.”

We love authenticity, knowing life is messy and imperfect.

If we want to see authenticity in others, then why can’t we embrace our own imperfections and just be good enough?

Think about what the great American philosopher, William James, said about a perfect world:

“Freedom in a world already perfect could only mean freedom to be worse, and who could be so insane as to wish that? Surely the only possibility that one can rationally claim is the possibility that things may be better.”

This simply means that in a perfect world we wouldn’t have the freedom to achieve anything positive because it’s already been achieved. In the imperfect world we live in, you can always make things better.

Next week we’ll talk about how to be happy with who you are and the fun of letting go of other people’s opinions.

Until we chat again,