Embracing Imperfection Is Making Me a Better Team Member

I recently had the opportunity to help a friend create something. It was an unplanned and simple task for us, and while it was nothing monumental, it was still a day I will remember for some time.

As we worked, smoke from the fire swirled around our bearded faces. Had we only hunted our own dinner, the day would have been one for the record books and our man points would have been maxed out for at least a year.

About midway through the project, my friend looked at me and said,

“Well, it isn’t perfect.”
“Nothing that is beautiful is,” I said, without hesitating.

I had never said this before, or even really thought it, but the deep truth in my response has stuck with me since that day. Remembering that true beauty doesn’t mean perfection is something I am trying to keep in mind when I am working with my team. You see, even though I feel so pressured to be perfect, and often hold others to the same standard, it just is not possible. By embracing imperfection, I am more patient with myself, my boss, and my team and am (hopefully) encouraging others to do the same.

Our team at Spire Labs is comprised of the most talented and amazing people in the entire world — I’m quite sure of it. These people are all vastly different, and each have unique ways of changing me, each other, and the customers we work with.

Most importantly, though, is that we all have one thing in common: we are imperfect. We are flawed, forgetful, and even sometimes less than joys to be around. We are alarmingly human. However, this commonality doesn’t detract from the quality of the team. I would argue that it makes our team that much more incredible.

When we have the ability to be human without placing unrealistic expectations of perfection on ourselves, we can work in a way that cultivates change, the freedom to innovate, and ultimately reach our full potential. At Spire Labs, we value this so much that our very first core value is “Always Find a Way”… which almost always means trying a few ways that don’t work the first time.

Often times, however, the drive for the bottom line or increased productivity force us to view the imperfections of our teammates or ourselves in a purely negative light, and we may leave one another feeling inadequate instead of empowered.

Laszlo Bock, former head of People Operations at Google and author of Work Rules! says:

“ We spend more time working than doing anything else in life. It’s not right that the experience of work should be so demotivating and dehumanizing.”

When we only focus on the negative, we don’t truly push one another to surpass the status quo and reach our full potential. If you don’t believe me, go read up on Positive Psychology and just consider what happens when we have enough grace to look at what is right with ourselves, and others.

As you interact with your team at work, remember that they too are human and they also want the same things you do: support, praise, feeling accomplished, and to be successful. So, here’s to those who are human, to those who make mistakes, and to those who are committed to making the world a better, not perfect, place!