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Imitations are Redundant

Imitation I can't think of a thing that is more debilitating for leaders than the fear of making a mistake, of being wrong, of looking foolish. Taking risks is what being alive is all about. And yet, I can tell you that leaders are sometimes terrified by that first step, the initial sentence, the blank page. Of being found out that they are human.

It's been my experience that a primary reason that managers keep doing things the same old way, even if they're bored with them or sense there's another, better way is that they want to do them perfectly -- first time. I know, I know. That's completely irrational, impractical, not workable -- and yet, it's how most people run their lives, especially at work.

Whoever said we had to do it perfect?

Probably our parents. And if not our parents, those bastions of perfection -- school teachers. And, I have to admit, I was one, at a point early in my career. I shudder to think that at one point I would have corrected the paragraph above by writing in big, bold RED letters: "...perfectLY and paragraphs should be more than one sentence!" Yikes! Talk about stifling the flow of creativity.

Way too many people have an image of themselves that's "perfect." If they can't perform according to their own imaginary standards of perfection, they drag their feet and procrastinate until it's too late to do it perfectly (...funny how that then eases their guilty minds). Or, they never take a run at trying something new and it seems to me, run the risk of missing something that might have been great fun and life-altering.

Anna Quindlen in her book, Being Perfect, says "Perfection is static, even boring. Imitations are redundant. Your true, unvarnished self is what is wanted." What a paradox! We hate to think of ourselves as boring, and yet we strive for perfection. Get real.

Photo on Flickr by kcalano

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