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Embracing Imperfection: Moving Business Toward Art and Innovation

salvador-dali-famous-quote-perfection-art-creativity1-300x149Believe it or not, I don’t start creating the Chunk Of Change posts by writing from A to Z.  I doodle.  I edit.  I misspell.  I strike.  I rearrange.  And I enjoy the mistake-filled, creative process of it all.

Everything about how I rework my ideas comes from a place deep in my being…and it’s inside of you, too.

Creativity in business is an art form.  It’s imperfect, it’s incomplete and, most of all, it’s filled with innovation…and that’s a great thing.  Innovation can’t come from a perfect place.  It’s a fundamental dichotomy.

Imperfection is filled with what every business says they strive for.  The things that make US business the top competitors in the world all come from an imperfect place.  When you don’t allow for creativity in business, you’re saying…

“We’re not innovative.”

Art, by its very nature, is imperfect.  And I’m learning that—every day.

I wasn’t always an “imperfectionist,” of course.  In the corporate world, I learned that it’s not okay to fail.  It’s costs time and money…and is not valued as part of the creative process.

If we look at business as art form, however, there’s a vulnerability that needs to be present—and imperfection is a natural part of that process.

Seth Godin talks about business as art, and he’s absolutely right.  Perfectionism crushes art, and can easily get in the way of your business, if it’s not kept on a tight leash.  Once you start understanding that, your business sense will evolve and grow.

“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen

perfect-be-the-enemy-of-the-good-voltaire1Imperfection helps fuel innovation.  People are used to acting on the fly now— putting up non-stop statuses on Facebook and Twitter, filming videos with their smartphone, and immediately sharing them as 15-second Instagram and Snapchat productions.  They’re not perfect; they’re real.

The internet is a place where we can post a lot faster now, and fail a lot faster too.  It’s a place for us to move forward and change quickly.

Recently, on a business trip to Chicago, I read a book entitled, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brene Brown.  She touched on the importance of embracing vulnerability and using that strength of that knowledge to grow as an individual.  It’s imperfection that makes growing possible.

“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.” ~ Salvador Dali

It’s part of the human condition to make mistakes, learn from them, grow from them, and of course, to repeat them, (the hope being that helpful mistakes will be the repeated mistakes, not the needless ones).

There are brands out there that have done a great job of embracing their mistakes and moving forward.  Just look at Netflix, which mitigated their pricing snafu by fixing the problem and climbing right back to the top of the entertainment food chain, right where they were before. Likewise, Dominos restructured the flavor profile of their pizzas in response to dismal focus groups. went back to the drawing board when their users tapered off, redesigning their site to much success.  These companies are role models for doing the right thing when they realize they’ve done the wrong thing first.

Google—the pinnacle of creativity—allows their employees to spend up to 20% of their working hours on self-chosen, innovative projects that inspire the efforts of the company.  It’s not a perfect system, but it’s different, and that’s exactly why it’s so brilliant.

When we make mistakes, we internalize those mistakes.  We forget how to learn from them.  When we begin to humanize business, however, we discover the importance of failure, and what it means to be truly comfortable with our imperfections.

You know, personally, I have to work at it.  I’m not nearly the perfectionist I used to be.  The key is constant improvement.  I have a commitment to the idea of embracing imperfection, and forgiving my own mistakes.  It’s not always easy, but it’s a crucial element of my ability to navigate the often-turbulent white waters of business.

Here’s how:

1)      Take less time to complete tasks.  Cut out all of the over-analysis and procrastination.

2)      Recognize your failings.  Learn to grow as an entrepreneur by being open and honest about them.

3)      Do things differently.  Change up the norm.  (Put your pant legs on the opposite way for once!)

4)      Give yourself space and the time to be innovative.  One of our clients does a team Mad Lib every day just to keep those creative juices flowing and to ensure that they continue to think differently.

In the end, the real solution is to just “be enough,” and be content with your efforts.  This is the secret: who you are is already enough.

Our culture shapes us to believe that to “be enough,” we have to overachieve, do too much or, at least, do that “one more thing.”  Unfortunately, that’s usually counterproductive.


The answer to those societal pressures is to simply accept and know that you are enough.  Say it with me: “I am enough…and I am imperfect.”  Because, as of this moment, that’s your new mantra.  And, trust me, it’s one that will serve you well.

So, I’m curious… how have you been imperfect today?  Let me know below!

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