The Gifts Of Imperfection shows you how to embrace your inner flaws to accept who you are, instead of constantly chasing the image of who you’re trying to be, because other people expect you to act in certain ways.
Whether in blinks or book pages, Brené Brown never fails to deliver. In Daring Greatly, she shows you how to summon the courage to move forward, precisely because you’re okay with being vulnerable, not in spite of it. Rising Strong is her companion to dealing with the inevitable failure that’s bound to happen once you do step forward.
This 2010 book, however, is the one that really put her on the map, coinciding with the year she delivered her iconic TED talk about vulnerability (which would go on to become the topic of Daring Greatly).
It’s about being okay with not being perfect, giving you ten guidelines to live what Brené calls “a wholehearted life.”
Here are my top 3:
- Trusting your gut and making rational decisions aren’t mutually exclusive.
- Comparing yourself to other people makes you boring, not better.
- The alternative to play isn’t to work more – it’s getting depressed.
Sick of having to pretend you’re perfect? Then let’s learn how to embrace your gifts of imperfection!
Lesson 1: Gut feelings and grounded reasoning aren’t opposing forces, just a mix.
“My gut tells me to pitch my idea at this startup event, but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea.”
What would you tell your friend if she said this? Try to find reasons why this could actually be a bad idea. Hm…well…your presentation could suck and impress no one, of course. Or the tech breaks down and you look like an idiot in front of the crowd. Or, maybe you’ll choke up and not be able to deliver the pitch.
Okay, those things all suck, but…aren’t they all just based on fear? What’s the potential, rational upside of going there? For one, if people like your pitch, you’ll have your first potential customers, a crowd to get feedback from, and if there’s a prize, maybe even some money to get going. Plus, you’ll learn a lot from preparing a presentation and delivering it.
So really, there are no rational downsides to this. Just irrational ones. The only thing you can lose is your ego, and that’s not a bad thing. Since your friend’s gut told her to do it, her gut gave her the best, rational answer.
Then how come it initially felt like her gut and her brain were battling for opposing sides? That’s simply because we can’t comprehend the speed of our gut. You have an idea, and then your brain goes into rapid-fire mode, jumping through all relevant memories and experiences, to then conclude with a certain feeling, which it shoots into your gut.
Gut decisions are nothing more than a way of quickly reasoning in the face of uncertainty, so you can take action when risks are present.
Just like a pro tennis player doesn’t calculate where the ball will land, but instinctively jumps to a side without being sure, you should learn to trust your gut to decide and act faster.
Lesson 2: Comparison breeds conformity. The more you compete, the more boring you’ll get.
What do you do when you compare yourself with your neighbor, friend, or a co-worker? Do you think of ways how you could beat them in business? Run faster? Look cooler? You can admit it, we all do this sometimes.
Ironically, while we think competing drives us forward and gets us to stand out from the crowd, it actually achieves the opposite. The more you try to mirror your competitors to reach their level, the more boring you’ll get, which actually makes you less likely to win.
For example, if you wanted to start a book summary site, and decided to make it like Four Minute Books, with three lessons per summary, why would anyone read your site over this one, given it’s just more of the same?
A competition among similar people, competing for similar achievements isn’t a race to the top. It’s a race to the middle, and thus, a race towards average.
Screw competition, embrace that you’re different, be an original, do your own thing and create something that’s incomparable.
Lesson 3: The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.
We’re taught from a very young age that playing is a distraction. It’s considered down-time, something that takes away from the things you have to do.
“Alright, time to stop playing Xbox, now get back to your homework!”
Brené thinks the opposite of playing isn’t work. It’s depression. Relaxing, rejuvenating and messing around are a part of work, because they help you do a better job when you’re in do mode.
Better yet, if you spend this play time with friends or co-workers, you’ll all recharge at the same time, learning to be more empathic, creative and excited about work.
So don’t think bad of yourself for letting lunch break run long – form a company basketball team instead and make more room for play in your life. It’ll keep you healthy and productive.
My personal take-aways
Brené’s wisdom lies, as always, in the details. Clever paragraphs, short alliterations, even single lines can entirely transform your perspective on a topic. Even more stunningly, it’s not like this happens just once, but multiple times as you read on. Highly recommended, I’m a huge fan of her work.