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Tuesday, February 15, 2005


The Career Change Blues (and Other Colors): Embracing Our Imperfections

I'm not sure how I happened to discover Charlie Badenhop and, but it's one of those wonderful surprises that life presents you. I subscribe to his e-newsletter, Pure Heart, Simple Mind, and eagerly look forward to each issue. If you want to be treated to some truly soulful writing that gets to the heart of life, do yourself a big favor and subscribe. Trust me, you won't regret it. Okay, I'm almost finished gushing.

The most recent issue's main article is titled Perfect Imperfections and it hits so soundly on a hangup that afflicts so many of us: the desire for perfection. Yet, rather than doing something perfectly (delivering the perfect presentation, acing the interview, hitting a Curt Schilling curveball), Charlie writes about the desire to be perfect. There's a huge difference and this latter desire is so insidious to our own wellbeing and sense of self-worth. It reminds me of a previous post I wrote in January called Just To Be Enough.

Charlie tells a story about a recent visit to a pottery shop outside of Tokyo, Japan. Admiring the workmanship, he talks to the shops owner and asks her to tell him about some of the pieces. She starts by describing the process of creating her pottery and that she is never sure how the piece will look when she pulls it out of the kiln.
It is the serendipity she said, that makes the work so magical. "It helps you to stay humble, and you learn to surrender to and accept the unknown," she said.
Then she relates to Charlie the "hoped for imperfections" of her work...glazing with inconsistent thickness and a not quite round bowl. Of all her pieces, it's the ones that are perfect that she values least. They don't adequately describe her uniqueness.

Charlie ends the article with some powerful questions and insights.
Do you try to make it appear like you have no flaws? Or do you relish how such flaws add to your uniqueness? I find in my own life, it is so important to go beyond the oppositional thinking of right or wrong, good or bad, and in the process, accept, and fall in love with, who I really am.
Why am I including this in my series on career change? Because I think perfection can be very seductive when it comes to the job hunting process. Think about your resume and your interview strategy. If you're like me, you worry that everything has to be perfect because you're likely up against so much competition. Everyone tells you that imperfections will get you weeded out. Mind you, not just technical imperfections like a misspelling (though please make sure you're diligent and use spell-check; I've been a hiring manager before and have discarded resumes and cover letters from college graduates that were littered with misspellings), but personal imperfections, as well. Most of the interview guides give advice for glossing over these imperfections when asked to talk about weaknesses. Since when did our uniqueness become a weakness? For instance, I'm incredibly impatient. One option is to tell the interviewer that it's a weakness that I'm working hard to rid myself of. Or I can fully own this quality of mine and love myself for it. My hope is that a potential employer will decide to accept the wholeness of me, appreciate all that I bring, and welcome my perfect imperfections with open arms.

Categories: c.Careers; c.Creativity; c.Living

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