Embrace Imperfection


I used to think that successful people didn't have the fear gene. As the years go by and my network grows larger, I've realized this just isn't true — not even close. I watched Brene Brown's TED talks on vulnerability and shame again this weekend. (Full disclosure: I’ve watched these talks at least twice a year since I watched the first talk on vulnerability in 2010.) The ideas here are just so human that they put the big picture back into perspective. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, taking a step back usually guarantees to kickstart my brain back into gear. So, bear with me while I take a step back. And, who knows? Your brain might just get kickstarted, too.

Stop waiting for things to be perfect.

Sorry, chances are it's never going to happen. Given the ever-changing nature of our world, there's no such thing as "final". Many of us strive for perfection, but in doing that, we lose sight of the big picture. We don't want to share something until it's perfect. Yet — in my experience — some of the best ideas come out of showing someone something that's half-finished, or talking through an idea that's not completely fleshed out. Sharing ideas early and often leads to greater collaboration and a better end product than you could have ever imagined on your own. And, it's okay if it's not perfect, because that just means there is always room to grow.

Shake it up.

We're all humans. It's easy to fall into the routine of everyday life. We all have our habits (good and bad). So, every now and then it's good take a few minutes and think about things from a different perspective. (Okay, I've been watching a lot of TED talks lately.) We have this amazing ability to adapt, but we often fall into our patterns, and we tend to stay there. It's familiar. It's comfortable. But change helps us grow, and we usually feel better after we push ourselves to try something new, whether it's running that marathon or solving that client's problem. So why do we procrastinate? Why don't we charge forward into the unknown to pursue our dreams? Nine times out of ten, the answer is fear. It's better to play it safe than look stupid, right? Wrong. As Chandler Bing would say, you couldn't BE more wrong. If you always play it safe, you'll never make a real impact. And that would be the real tragedy.

Be vulnerable and walk into the fear.

The only way to ever be successful, is to let yourself be seen. Be passionate. Connect with others. Dive in head first. It's terrifying and not an easy thing to do, but it's worth it every time. By the way, if someone tells you it's not scary to do these things, that person is either lying or a sociopath. I have to work on it every day. We all do. Change is messy. But we are equipped with the ability to adapt. So, charge forward, step into the fear, and let yourself be seen, in all your wonderful imperfection.

Shannon Ruetsch is a user experience consultant based in New York City. She has an avid fondness for making lists and getting things done, but loves nothing more than getting lost in a good book. Say hello.