Week 12: Flaws Out

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‘To err is human, to forgive divine!’ is a quote from An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope.  How apropos.

I have always been an advocate for making mistakes.  That’s how we learn.  That’s how we discover what is important, and what is not.

We all have flaws and we need to open up to them and see them for what they are.  Physical, emotional, characteristical (is that word?), environmental, the way we think, the way we act, how we perform.  Change the flaws of things that really bug you, embrace the rest.  Own it – REALLY own it.

I have taken a ton of courses on leadership and how to be a great leader.  After many, many courses telling me the same thing, I began to feel like I was somewhat of a failure at being a leader, as there were so many rules and expectations and it appeared that I was just not living up to them.  When I verbalized this to one instructor she was shocked at my reaction and admitted that the content was merely to provide leaders with tools to use in various situations. My perception was that a requirement of living up to an unrealistic perfection.

Shortly after, my boss told me about a leadership course he insisted that I take so I could observe my imperfections and find ways to improve.  Whoo boy, I don’t think he was ready for me!  I told him that I was absolutely aware of my imperfections and mistakes and I had decided that I want to keep some of them just the way they are!  I like my faults and they make me, ME!  I am not going to be forced into becoming a homogenous leader stereotype that acts, thinks and talks the exact way that my employer believes a leader should behave.  I am a steadfast INDIVIDUAL and I uphold my right to make mistakes.  (I did not sign up for the course, in case you were wondering.)

Over the years with the vast amount of changes, budget cuts and re-prioritization of projects, my organization provided direction that to achieve the results we wanted, a 70/30 rule should be adopted. Only 70% of the information is required to move ahead on decisions; projects will address 70% of the issues to be considered effective; people cannot be expected to do 100% perfection and if 70% of the important issues are addressed, it will suffice.  Only problem is, most of the leaders did not understand this very well.  Perfection was expected and enforced.  Try to do something 70% and you get reprimanded.  Make a mistake and there is no support, no excuse, no help to fix it.

Many people freeze up and cannot perform when they think that they are not perfect.  I need to tell you something…there will always be someone who is better than you or doing something cooler than you.  You cannot get better or be ‘perfect’ until you try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, and remember to learn and improve in between.  We all had to get on a bike at one point in our lives.  Remember you fell off, you probably scraped your knee, but you got back on and tried again.  After a while, you could ride. Some of us, pretty well!

I recall when my children were very small, probably about five and eight, I helped them learn a little song and dance and play routine.  We planned to do a Christmas concert for their grandparents.  When my husband found out, he was horrified!  He did not want to be embarrassed if their performance was not great, as he was sure it would not be.  What would his Mom think?  What if his Dad didn’t like it?  I told him he was being ridiculous, and to stop making the kids nervous.  We went to Grandma and Grandpa’s and my beautiful little Angles gave a wonderful, charming, hilarious and absolutely Unperfect performance.  No one was embarrassed.  Everyone had fun and there were hugs all around.

One day in the gym as I was getting changed, this woman reached over and straightened my bra strap.  I was appalled.  She told me that could not stand things out of place and a twisted bra strap said so much about a person.  Really?  I was still putting on my pants and had not got to the bra yet…what did that say about her.  The next day when I was getting dressed in the gym, the same woman hurried over to tell me that my belt was twisted in the pant loops (I was still putting them on).  I looked down and said, ‘I know!  I like it like that!  In fact, I think I’ll wear it like that all day!’ and I did.

Laugh at your mistakes and your flaws; they are fun.  Get to know you, the good, the bad and the ugly!  Be true to who you are and be spectacular at being you!  What is the worst that could happen?

Society has an obsession with physical beauty.  You know, I too like my hair to look nice, and my skin flawless and youthful, but how many of us can maintain that?  Even for a day?  The first time I go to the gym, or walk to the post office in the wind, or have 15 minutes to get ready in the morning because the kids are late for school, WHAMO, all the beauty is undone!  This world is full of judgement, shame, and hate.  Don’t do it to yourself.  Haters are gonna hate regardless of how perfect you think you look.

When I was little my sister gave me a nickname of ‘Schnoz’ because my nose is rather large.  She would make fun by pretending that I knocked things over with my nose or bumped into her with it. I would laugh along with her, but inside I was truly ashamed of my giant ‘Schnoz’.  When I spoke to someone, I always put a hand over my nose and looked down.  I tried to find the best angle to look when getting pictures taken, or I avoided photos altogether if possible.  After I was married, I had rhinoplasty to fix my deviated septum and straighten my nose a little.  I realized this did not make my nose any smaller, but I still felt more confident and did not worry about how it looked so much.  Twenty-five years later, I had a horrible cycling accident.  My right nostril was ripped right off, and my lips were completely degloved from my chin.  The plastic surgeon stitched me back together and then a few months later ‘made’ me a new nostril from the surrounding skin.  Sure, there is a little bit of scarring, but I am ecstatic with the results!  I HAVE A NOSE!  Yeah!!!  I am grateful to have a nose, even a big ‘Schnoz’.

One time, my Dad asked me what was great about Evie!  My five sisters had already answered the question with ease, selecting attributes that were amazing about what they could do – great with horses, mechanically inclined, funny, a wonderful speaker, excellent chess player.  I could not think of anything.  I looked around the room and into the faces of my older siblings, experiencing how wonderful each of them truly was, and then suddenly it came to me.  My face brightened, a smile flashed and I proudly blurted out, ‘I have big, strong feet!’   My Dad laughed and laughed, looking at my feet and said, ‘You certainly do!’  Since then, I have always been very proud to have size nine, wonderfully, powerfully, big, strong feet!

We went to a Stage West presentation a couple of years ago, called ‘I Love You Because’.  The story was about two people who began dating each other and ‘putting up’ with each other’s flaws.  At the end of the story, they discovered they were in love. The female character told her mate ‘I love you in spite of all your flaws.’  The male character had a lovely, completely different perspective and told her ‘I love you because of yours!’

Who we are includes our flaws.  Love them.

I adore the Special K commercial that encourages us to own it!  As far as the physical body goes, love yours!  Don’t wish for someone else’s because it is never going to happen. The body you have is the body you have.  Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken (Mike Robbins)!  Honor yourself, pamper yourself, enjoy every little thing about you, and for God’s sake, take care of yourself.  Do nice things for your body, your mind, your soul, and your spirit.  And, embrace your flaws.

You have the right to be wrong.

Questions and Exercises

Make a list of all the things about yourself that you consider ‘flaws’.

Now make a list of all the things about yourself, physical, characteristic, etc., that you are grateful for.

Look at your list of flaws again and see if you have a different perspective.

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