In Praise of Imperfections

I am here to cheer for your imperfections. They are your opportunity to overcome, shine, improve, and, most importantly to me, be unabashedly proud of your humanness.

Laura S. Woods

Senior Counsel, Eastman Chemical Company

“Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.” – Ziad Adelnour

I attended a three-day leadership seminar for women recently. One evening included a panel of female executives, and one of those panelists shared the above quote with us. It was both refreshing and intimidating to think about the concept. On the one hand: “Hallelujah! Perfection is not expected, regardless of what you see on social media and through other outlets.” Quickly, though, on the other: “Wait. My clients depend on me to help them, to anticipate what might go wrong and adjust for that, and I cannot let a flaw of mine penalize my client.”

Exactly.

Even having this conversation in the open causes me a bit of, um, hesitation. Freedom. Exhilaration. Heart palpitations.

Every year, my best friend, Amy Mahone—an amazing shareholder with Baker Donelson’s long-term care transactional practice—and I spend some time with the Lawyering and Professionalism class at The University of Tennessee College of Law. We share with them the secrets to our successful careers. Not really. There are no secrets. Rather, we talk with them about how we figured out, and continue to figure out, what makes us tick professionally and keeps our fires stoked. 

Woven into the presentation, sometimes subtly and other times loudly: we always learn more from situations that did not go as planned than the ones we executed to perfection. It’s a truth that permeates any part of your life. 

Ponder right now on a particularly “generous” learning experience. You’re likely reminded that you discovered something about yourself during that time that deserved tweaking for future reference.

Ouch.

Now, consider when you’ve watched someone else discover one of his/her flaws.  While you’re there, think about the grace you extended to that person—a client, maybe—as he/she worked through the shortcoming(s). Did you think less of the person for dealing with those imperfections?

Exactly.

I am here to cheer for your imperfections. They are your opportunity to overcome, shine, improve, and, most importantly to me, be unabashedly proud of your humanness. Your best work can come from facing those imperfections, whatever they might be, in whatever form they might take, and in whatever area of life they might dwell. Embrace the imperfection, for the possibilities arising from it are endless.

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