I sometimes wish I was a Harvard graduate, that I was a 4.0 type student, that I could still do a mean regression analysis, that I had been a CEO of a major corporate company, and was already being called as a corporate director on boards like Nike, Nordstrom, or Amazon. But I’m not.
I am less “perfect” than all of that.
The reason I founded a consulting business? Because I got fired.
The reason I can adjust communications to a bunch of leaders? It’s cause I ran through 24 (or was it 26?) leaders during my nearly 7 year tenure at Apple. While some of those moves were promotions, I got shuffled from manager to manager cause I was “difficult” to manage.
The reason I can spot something amiss? Well, I’ll keep it brief by sharing I had some very close up experiences with Child Protective Services. My childhood was less than easy, surrounded by people who did not know how to keep a child safe. Because of it, I built up an internal detection system.
The reason I am being pursued for corporate board seats with 4 different firms? Because I had failed to build a leadership team that could allow that firm to operate without me.
On a good day, I can see the beauty of all this “imperfection”. It makes me, me. It’s not our perfectness that prepares us for what’s next, it’s our life experiences. The ups, the downs, the “learning” moments that follow the inevitable failure moments. The way in which we learn, and adapt, and become more of who we are. I am open to what is next, and that wasn’t available to me until I shut down my firm.
Like me, you probably have many friends who have lost their job, or go through a major transition in the last year. I’ve noticed the ones who moan “why me” and start to wallow in why things are not as they wish, rather than work with what they have…they are the ones who typically can’t move forward. By wanting to be perfect, they can’t be well, themselves. They resist what is in front of them. They can’t let life unfold as it needs to…
Scott Adams recently pointed out in the Wall Street Journal that it was the many failures of his career (a corporate career that didn’t succeed, etc) that lets him be the gift we all know as the Dilbert cartoonist. In his words, he says:
“I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The “Dilbert” comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is created.”
Yes, that’s how value is created. By imperfection. By our differences. By our uniqueness.
When we let ourselves discover what life has in store for us, to listen to where our heart leads us, we become who we are meant to be. Maybe not perfect. But imperfectly ourselves.