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The courage to be imperfect

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“I’m not perfect, but parts of me are awesome.”

Let’s face it, we all have flaws. And, despite how some people see it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The fact is, every single one of us is a work-in-progress.

We may be at different stages in life. We may have different strengths and weaknesses, but there isn’t a single person on the planet who hasn’t felt vulnerable or made mistakes. Nor is there a single person who couldn’t be better at something in some area of their life.

While hiding your flaws or pretending to be something or someone you’re not can fool many people — and many try to live their lives this way — true power comes from being your authentic self — flaws and all — and not being ashamed or afraid of being imperfect.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” — Mark Twain

When you truly accept who you are — weaknesses included — to the point that you are not afraid to admit your flaws or be vulnerable, people are much less able (or likely to try) to use your flaws as weapons against you.

When you don’t hide who you are behind a mask of misrepresentation, you no longer have to live in fear of being discovered as “false” or less than capable at something.

When you truly know who you are — and who you are in the process of becoming — you will no longer live in fear of what people say or think about you.”

Additionally, knowing what your weaknesses are — and what triggers you to think and behave as you do — provides you with the ability to potentially overcome, or at least reduce their affects.

And while we often believe that we will be liked less for not being perfect, people are actually much more likely to respect and admire those who express themselves authentically rather than those who pretend to be perfect or act as if they are superior to others.

Have the courage to be authentic. Have the courage to take responsibility for who you are and how you act.

And have the courage to be imperfect.

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.” — Keshavan Nair

If you haven’t watched The Power of Vulnerability TED talk by Brene Brown, it is one of the most viewed TED talks in history. She is a great speaker. Very funny and insightful. It is definitely 20 minutes well spent.

The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is to live in insecurity; it is to live in love, and trust; it is to move in the unknown. It is leaving the past and allowing the future to be. Courage is to move on dangerous paths. Life is dangerous, and only cowards can avoid the danger – but then, they are already dead. A person who is alive, really alive, vitally alive, will always move into the unknown. There is danger there, but he will take the risk. The heart is always ready to take the risk, the heart is a gambler. The head is a businessman. The head always calculates – it is cunning. The heart is non-calculating.” — Osho, from The Joy of Living Dangerously

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Leveling up in life

It is a fact of life that once we’ve reached a certain level of comfort in nearly any particular skillset, finding the motivation to further improve — or “level up” — one’s abilities in that skillset can be a challenge.

This is because, after a certain point, we reach a plateau and appear to stop getting results. And although we may try for a while, the struggle to further improve upon something is often fraught with failed attempts.

So instead, where we once saw a consistent path of improvement, we fail to get results.

People often assume that, because they stop improving, they have reached the apex of that particular skillset. It often comes with the thought, “Well, I’m no longer getting any better at this, so this must be as good at this as I will ever be” and they leave it at that. Or, because something doesn’t come easy, “I guess I’m just not very good at this particular thing. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

“I will never be a faster typer than this.”
“I will never be able to perform this skateboarding trick.”
“I will never be able to run a 5 minute mile.”
“I will never be able to paint like the pros.”
“I will never be fluent in another language.”
“I will never be able to play the piano well.”

And so on.

And that’s unfortunate because they’ve just fallen victim to a self-limiting belief. It’s not, in most cases, that they truly can’t, it’s that they no longer make any attempts to try.

Others fall into the trap of believing that if they simply continue to use a particular skill that they are comfortable with enough, they’ll get increasingly better at it.

The issue with that is that after you effectively hit a “plateau” with a skill (or a muscle), any further repeating of the same thing you’ve been doing will no longer yield significant gains, changes, or growth.

And that’s because it is the struggling and working hard, not comfortably, at something that causes one to get better at it.

And if you haven’t made the connection as to why this is important, this not only applies to skills, or strength training, but life as well.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”

It’s also why a wise person once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Joshua Foer, in his 99U talk (video) suggests that you need to “step outside your comfort zone and study yourself failing”.

From his talk description:

“When most of us learn a new skill, we work to get just “good enough” and then we go on autopilot. We hit what journalist and bestselling author Joshua Foer calls the “OK Plateau,” where we have gained sufficient skills for our needs and we stop pushing ourselves.

But experts do it differently. Looking at the research on everyone from incredible athletes to memory champions, Foer has extracted four principles that describe how to push through the OK Plateau to achieve true greatness.”

So if you want to “level up” your skills & abilities and be outstanding, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

You need to get back to challenging yourself and failing. And learning from your failures and pushing forward despite them.

And, above all, don’t give up until you begin to see positive results. Results being positive changes in your perspective, approach, style, or abilities.

Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” — Andy Rooney

Getting Results:

When you don’t get results: Try something else.
If you don’t get the results you want: Try something else.
And if you stop getting results: Try something else.

Related:

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From the comments:

Carl: Great post! I have felt like I was at a plateau in my artwork for some time, and this thinking may have been part of it. One needs to examine their process with an eye towards learning how to work smarter, because just taking the same approach and expecting to get better can be just reinforcing bad (or less than ideal) habits that are holding back progress.

While “just doing more work” can lead to unexpected/accidental discoveries that lead to progress (as well as being important for maintaining current skill levels), intentionally thinking about why one approach or another may be better, and trying different approaches to find out what might work better (or finding out what approaches are used by those who are better than you) is likely to be more effective. I need to remind myself of this, more.

Zero: I agree. You can improve simply by doing more work — and have those serendipitous moments (happy accidents), but those, too, are often caused by making mistakes — or certainly by trying something new.

But if you want to improve faster, make more mistakes faster. :)

And I agree with working smarter, not harder — but, in the case of plateauing, it is often our lack of wanting to work hard that keeps us from improving. We’re not willing to make extra work for ourselves when we know of a “shortcut”. But we also never learn what hidden gems are on those long hard roads we fear to take.

“That doesn’t count.”

“That doesn’t count.”

Sometimes people will try to trivialize your accomplishments in order to feel better about themselves.

Never let someone’s own sense of self-worth interfere with your self-esteem or sense of accomplishment. Because your efforts and achievements in life — no matter how small — count.

Life isn’t a competition. It isn’t about comparing yourself to others. It’s about trying to be better than the person you were yesterday.

While we may cross paths, the route each of us takes through life is unique. And a step forward is a step forward, regardless of how small your stride is or how long is takes you to get somewhere.

So go slow if you must. And make mistakes — as everyone does — and learn from them.

Just keep going and don’t let others — or their achievements — get you down.

And remember, no two people are on the same journey through life.

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Talking shit

No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is.” — Irvin Himmel

With our limited perspectives, we often have very little understanding of what other people are truly thinking or what motivated them to act in the way that they did. We only have our interpretation.

Remember, we judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions.

“Regardless of whether the outcome of an action is considered “good” or “bad”, everyone does things for reasons they consider reasonable at the time.”

As such, it is important to exercise restraint when one feels the urge to criticize people.

Remember, what one says when they talk about other people reveals a considerable amount about the person doing the talking.

If you must talk about people, talk about what you learned from the experience and use that to teach others how to beware of similar situations.

Let others make up their own mind as to how to use the knowledge and insight you share.

What you observe with other people isn’t always true. But what you learn from experiences with other people can’t be disputed.

We all make mistakes. It’s what we learn from ours and others experiences that’s important, not energy spent criticizing others.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” — Ian Maclaren *

*This is in regard to personal relationships, not evil companies or individuals who exist to simply take advantage of people.

Related:

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What you say when you talk about others says a lot about you.

The most successful people in the world

“Sometimes life’s going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.” — Steve Jobs

Even the most successful people in history have had their confidence rocked (video), their good ideas questioned & ridiculed, and the door of opportunity slammed in their face.

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” — Randy Pausch

Even the most successful, most intelligent, most attractive, and most beloved people in the world have felt tired, lonely, scared, ugly, stupid, and alone.

Even the most successful people in the world have set goals, made mistakes and suffered serious setbacks and failure.

Success is 99 percent failure.” — Soichiro Honda

But what made many of the most successful people in the world successful is that they persisted. They had the desire, the determination, the passion, and the will to succeed. And they used it.

And that made all the difference.

Success isn’t a magical thing that some people can have and others cannot. It’s something you work for.

As Steve Jobs also said:

Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” (video)

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Why I think you’re awesome.

Why I think you’re awesome.

It’s not because you don’t make mistakes. We all do. That’s how we learn. It’s not because you haven’t occasionally come across in a way you didn’t intend. We all do that, too. It’s not because you’re always friendly, always generous, or always think of others before yourself.

The fact is, we’re all a work-in-progress and no one is perfect.

The reason I think you’re awesome is because of what I know you are capable of.

I know how you can make someone’s day simply by showing them appreciation.
I know how you can change a life by offering friendly advice and encouragement.
I know how you can improve upon the things you want to work on just by making them more of a priority in your life.

Perhaps it’s your fitness, your diet, or your relationships.
Perhaps it’s all three.

I know there is an incredibly powerful person in you capable of achieving far more than you ever thought possible. A person who, by striving to add just a little more positivity and kindness to the world each day, motivates and inspires others to do the same.

That person is awesome. That person is you.

"Why I think you&039;re awesome" by Zero Dean

‘If Plan A doesn’t work out…’

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If “Plan A” doesn’t work, don’t worry, you still have 25 letters left.

Not helpful!

The truth is, you don’t always get a 2nd chance, let alone a 3rd. But every mistake or failure provides valuable lessons to learn from.

  • Re-think where it went wrong
  • Seek help where you need it, and
  • Take everything you learned from the experience and use it to strategize a new plan for success.

Ways to find encouragement: Take it easy on yourself

Ways to find encouragement series:

Take it easy on yourself.

Many of us are our own worst critics. We beat ourselves up when things don’t play out as we imagined.

It may be disappointing to make mistakes or not perform as well as we expected, but it’s important to remember that no experience is wasted if we learn from it.

Life is hard enough as it is — we shouldn’t make it even harder on ourselves by focusing on our failures, lacks, or shortcomings. Yes, having an idea of our weaknesses is advantageous in order to find ways to compensate for them, but to beat ourselves up over not being able to do everything we attempt every single time we try is a waste of energy.

When we give ourselves a break, it makes our efforts easier and strengthens our resolve to keep heading towards our dreams. And that’s encouraging.

Related:

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Ways to find encouragement: Don’t be afraid of mistakes

Ways to find encouragement series:

Don’t be afraid of mistakes.

No one gets through life without making mistakes. Only some people make a bigger deal/show out of them than others. Some of the most successful people in the world fail all the time, but they don’t sit around announcing it to everyone. Instead, they simply learn from it and move on.

When you treat your mistakes like learning experiences, you turn what some people consider to be a negative thing into a positive one. And that’s encouraging.

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