Lisa G. O'Brien

Messy Imperfection

Messy Imperfection

by Lisa Co-Active Coach

Posted on August 20, 2015 at 10:45 AM

Summer is just beginning to come to a slow end. I feel about summer ending like I do when I share a dessert. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those last few bites stare back at me from the plate and dare me to be selfish enough to snag them up for myself instead of sharing them.

Summer does the same thing! The lazy, endless, and carefree days of summer tempt me to grab them up and selfishly enjoy them. It’s a temptation I am happy to give in to, if I’m honest. Autumn will be here with all of it’s schedules, demands, expectations, and routines quickly enough.

Version 2

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I feel a certain kind of cultural pressure during the fall to “get it together!” I don’t really even know what that means. I hear the loud cries, demands, and judgements to find a path to perfection. And if I’m totally honest, I’m sort of over it!

Autumn seems to invite everyone away from carefree summer holidays to rigid productivity. Executives are working hard to create a perfect strategy that leads to perfect profitability. Parents are working hard to create a perfect plan to the perfect school year.  Leaders are working hard to create a perfect program to produce perfect followers. Spouses are working hard to create the perfect plan towards perfect partnership. Christians are working really hard to find the perfect rhythm that will build a perfect spiritual life.

I’ve tried really hard for a lot of decades to obey and submit to this cultural demand. I have failed loudly, sloppily, and mightily ever single time. Maybe it’s my youthful rebel being given life again, maybe it’s my proximity to the halfway mark of my decade, or maybe it’s just pure wisdom….But I’m over working hard to find the perfect “whatever” that produces perfection.

I had a moment earlier this year that will go down as my biggest fail of 2015! I was leading a retreat that I am quite comfortable leading as a professional coach. This particular retreat had a participant that I happened to give life to and when I saw her face in the opening moments of the welcome, I absolutely lost the plot. I could not remember my name, any words of coherent meaning, or even what all these people were doing looking at me. I fumbled around for some messy compilation of words and found a way to a clumsy opener.

I have spent much time laughing about that failure and actually celebrating it! It seemed to open a door and issue an invitation to something that lives on the other side of perfection. I was introduced to glorious Messy Imperfection and we became fast friends. Messy Imperfection reminded me that connection is the most important thing. It reminded me that celebrating imperfection leads to learning. It has freed me from the prison of trying to be perfect.

Most of my life has been spent trying “to do it right.” What does that even mean? I mean, I have yet to find the manual entitled “A Dummies Guide to Doing It Right.” or “A Dummies Guide to the Perfect Life.” (If that actually exists, DO NOT add it to my Christmas list!!)

As I become friends with glorious messy imperfection, I am finding a lot of space to connect, celebrate, and even be sloppy sometimes. I’m moving farther and farther away from the dictating ways of perfection. I’m finding the freedom to be messy and imperfect in my schedule, my house, my writing, my relationships, my work, and even in my own soul.

I wonder if you’d like to meet my friend, Messy Imperfection, in these last few remaining carefree days of summer. I wonder if there might be some new kind of freedom for you in stealing away a tiny bit more of summer, embracing your imperfection, and celebrating your failures.


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