No One Is Perfect, Really?

This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on June 23, 2015.

No one is perfect.

What is new in saying this? Everyone knows it.

Ok, so everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are creative. We see the big picture, but not the details. Others are detail oriented to the point they miss seeing the forest, but take in each and every tree. Some of us are liberal, while others are conservative. Some are people oriented, sensitive. Some are not.

So? What is new?

My present insight is that although people say that it is obvious no one is perfect, they do not walk their talk.

There is a whole industry of life coaches and business consultants, men and women who teach, preach, plead, and push you to work on your weaknesses. Be a better person. Improve. (I am not referring in this blog to pathological deficiencies of character or mental disorder. Just normal imperfections that we all have.)

What is wrong?

If you work on your weaknesses, it means you believe that if you succeed in removing them, you will be approaching perfection. In other words, you say no one is perfect, but you nevertheless try to become so, probably like your mother pushed you to be.

Working on your weaknesses means you harbor the hope, you have faith that you might succeed and be perfect.

Since none of us are perfect no matter how hard we try, those fruitless efforts make us feel like a failure. And no one likes this feeling. So we become defensive. Then, when someone points out our limitations, we become furious or defensive. We are offended, upset, because we have this hidden assumption that we can and should be perfect, although we say the opposite.

If we accepted that no one is perfect, including ourselves, criticism would be nothing more than pointing out the facts. So when someone points you to your weaknesses next time, say: “Thank you for sharing” and keep going.

Anything else?

If you truly accept that you are not and cannot become perfect, work on your strengths. Capitalize on them, and for your weaknesses, get yourself someone who complements you, someone who is strong where you are weak. Together you achieve the elusive perfection. Alone it cannot be done. Don’t we introduce our spouse: “Please meet my BETTER HALF.”

It is in teamwork that we find the perfection no star can provide by himself or herself.

Building a team of people who complement one another is easier when each member of the team knows and accepts his weaknesses and cherishes the corresponding strength that someone else provides.

That requires breaking down managerial elitism created by hierarchy. If you complement yourself with someone who is strong in what you are weak, it means that the person “reporting to you” might be better than you are on some aspects. Thus, he or she should not be working FOR you but WITH you, a true colleague.

With mutual trust and respect based on knowing and not fighting our weaknesses, in appreciating those who complement us, a team is built and success is forthcoming.

Just thinking.

Ichak Kalderon Adizes