“Do you guys want it weird or perfect!?” That’s the question with which Toni Bergins* opened her Movement and Music workshop at Kripalu last week. The group shouted back in one voice: ‘WEEEEIIIIRRRRRD!”. “Good” said Toni, “because I don’t do perfect”.
Last week I was at Kripalu for a program on “Designing and Leading Transformational Workshops” and my 5 day stay became a sort of meditation on weirdness and perfection.
What I came to realize is that the idea of wanting/needing to be perfect is really unhelpful in the context of transformational work – as leader or learner. Sometimes you simply have to give yourself space to get messy, follow a tangent or fail really fantastically in order to find a nugget. Sometimes the best learning experiences are weird, unplanned and uncomfortable.
Here are some of my reflections on why weird trumps perfect in the world of transformational work:
1) If you’re concerned with doing everything perfectly, you’re less likely to allow yourself to risk failing. And if you’re not willing to step out of your comfort zone, experiment and try untested waters, then how will you grow and change? Answer: you won’t.
2) ‘Perfection’ is a pretty cruel standard to impose upon yourself and others because it’s impossible to meet. If you choose not to accept anything less than perfection, you set yourself up for failure. You will NEVER measure up to an impossible standard. If you are already dealing with a tiny voice in your head that tells you ‘you’re not good enough’ the need to be perfect will serve to reinforce that voice. Not helpful.
3) In the quest to seem perfect, we end up hiding our authenticity and our humanity – and rob ourselves of the opportunity to create deep connection with others. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we allow others to ‘see’ us and ‘be’ with us as we are. ‘Being real’ allows us to forge powerful connections in a way that ‘being perfect’ does not. Can you relate to people that seem too perfect? Me neither.
4) What makes you weird/unique/special probably rolls into your purpose - the contribution that you and you alone can make to this world. Have you ever watched someone stand powerfully in their own brand of weird? It is truly a delight! Toni Bergins is a shining example of what happens when you stake your territory and let your freak flag fly – your tribe gathers around the flag!
I think we can agree that we all do weird really well and we all fail horribly at perfect. So, what if we just resign ourselves to this fact, name and claim our ‘imperfections’ (I call them my ‘adorable quirks’) and learn to celebrate them? Maybe we could set a powerful example for others about self-acceptance. Maybe we could help those that are busy trying to hide their imperfections to see that ‘getting real’ has more value than ‘getting perfect’.
My best teachers** transform me as a person by offering up challenging work that forces me to wrestle with my insecurities (my inner voice that tells me I’m not good enough) and they push me to do things that are waaaaay out of my comfort zone. In these trainings, I wrestle with my insecurities and, in the end, I triumph over them. Those trainings feel far from perfect. They have many awful moments of awkwardness, uncertainty, self-doubt, and discomfort - but inevitably lead me to discover that I am capable of way more than I give myself credit for. As a result, I leave the training with the courage to take on new challenges, take risks, and get more creative in my work when I return home.
The process of learning and growing often feels imperfect. So, upon deeper reflection, in answer to Toni’s question: “Do you guys want it weird or perfect?” I have to say that I don’t think the two ideas are mutually exclusive. Transformational work is usually perfectly weird – and weirdly perfect.
* Toni Bergins is the Creator of Journey Dance™. I would describe her weird and wonderful work as Shamanic Dance Therapy. My words.
**Jill Miller, creator of Yoga Tune Up®. Life changing, mind-bending, body altering work.
Ken Nelson, Lesli Lang. De-mystification of how to create a safe container for transformational work.