Perfectly Imperfect

You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.
–Sam Keen

If you know me, you know that I like things to be a particular way.  From keeping things on my desk at a 90-degree angle to everything else, or in the standard of work I attempt to produce every day; I want things to be done well. If you ask my parents about this trait, they will tell you, the person they know me as today did not grow up in their house. I will admit, I have come a long way! 

Although this character strength can be very beneficial in my work, it is often one of my biggest struggles. Even though I know it is a valuable part of the learning process, I do not want to make mistakes. Ultimately, I believe that this is because I feel that if I make mistakes I am letting people down in the perfect world I am trying to create. The problem is that perfect, when it comes to anything is an impossible goal.  I have to remind myself of this regularly, put my ego aside, and remember that I am allowed to make mistakes, that they are a part of life, and in those lessons, I grow.

Our imperfections make each of us interesting, make us different, and most importantly make us important.  We all have something special to contribute that is unique to us as an individual. I cannot tell you what a perfect student, teacher, principal, or person looks like.  The reason I cannot explain the characteristics of these individuals is that they do not exist. There is no definition for perfect in our lives because life is not about being perfect.  It is about improving and becoming better.

As we continue our journey in leading with  L.E.S.S. and focus on “Self,” this is maybe one of the most important concepts that can break our spirits and cause us to question if we are doing any good. Perfection is the enemy. All you can do is show up each day and give your best because your best is all you have to give. Some days your best is better than other days, but no day is it perfect. We can drive ourselves crazy by expecting a mistake-free, perfect world. It does not exist and should never be our goal in education.

Our goal instead needs to be to use our imperfections, our mistakes, and our unique character traits to make our community a better place.  Improvement should be our purpose. As educators, we get the amazing opportunity each day to help people get better, stretching them, helping them change and grow. We get to go along with people as they get to places they never thought they would go, or achieve things they never thought they could. When you stop to think about that, it is deeply humbling to realize that we get to serve alongside others in a way where we get to have this lasting impact. 

Even though it is a struggle, I know that striving for perfection only leads to things seeming less perfect, at least in the eyes of the person on the chase.  Since nothing is ever perfect, the pursuit of perfection will only lead us to chase an invisible, moving target. It is the imperfections and mistakes that we must work around, and grow with, that help us achieve success.  I know that when my best-developed plans appear to be broken, they usually help lead me to new places and new solutions that fix other broken things in my life. We have to remind ourselves, it is not about being perfect, it’s about improving. It’s not about the goal, but the process to reach the goal. It is about our response to circumstances that define us, not getting it right every time. The only thing that truly helps us improve is working really, really, hard every day.  Any story other than that is probably a lie.

Life is imperfectly perfect, and that is the way it should be.  So, remind yourself daily to improve…remind yourself to be better…remind yourself that you are amazing the way you are right now! Always remember, life is about improving not about being perfect.  Then ask: what did I do to improve today?

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