Owning our Faults, Without Shame or Blame
The Human Being is a vastly COMPLEX animal
No doubt it's extremely annoying when someone makes the less-than-earth-shattering-statement, "Well, you know, we're only human." What the hell does that mean? Surely we're not surprised...."What??!! We're all mere humans beings?!" I hope no one makes this announcement believing it's some profound unknown fact. OK, I know it's just a saying that really means, Let's face it, not a single one of us is perfect. That's the reality and who can argue?
Truth is, off the wall statements such as that one, are just short cuts. One of those simple phrases we hope will express an entire thought process or explain an entire concept. Rather than get into long drawn-out, wordy explanations, in an effort to make a point, we use these concise quotes. In the process, we're fairly sure that those we're communicating with will understand our intent. This is the fact of the matter and an acceptable one at that.
Can we take just a moment here to think back to a time we were still taking those baby steps toward adulthood? Young, trusting, curious and a bit naïve, we were. The maturing process can be long and riddled with trial and error, depending upon each individual personality and their ability to learn and retain information. With the generous assistance of those older and wiser, a few trip and fall experiences, complete with rebound, some time, effort and focus, we finally arrive. We become full-grown intelligent and intuitive adults, responsible and sensible.
Not so fast......let's slow down, shall we?
It appears we can all agree that the human being never stops learning. At the very least, we need to hope this is the case. Therefore, our minds continue to expand and our collections of events and experiences take root and flourish. We do not stand still and for all intents and purpose, we become better, wiser, stronger and thus, more productive. It's really a magnificent process and a never-ending one. Alas, Human beings are a fascinating, outrageously complex lot. We belong to the exclusive group of rational beings, capable of reason and continual improvement and advancement. We are living, breathing, self-sustaining, feeling, educable, capable, carnal, vulnerable beings called people.
What we are not and can never be is, perfect. That which is without a single flaw, defect, vice, fault and/or less-than-acceptable trait. Despite whatever we may wish, hope or strive for....perfection is not humanly attainable. It just ain't happening my friend. We're clear on this, yes?
With this admission of imperfection, we move on
The reality that we are not perfect nor can we ever be, doesn't seem to make a firm enough impression on some. These individuals hear this, know that it's a blatant fact, attribute imperfection to others, but somehow they find justification to exclude themselves. Despite how ludicrous it is, there are people who appear to think they are as close to P E R F E C T as can be. And I suppose every now and then in particular circumstances, we're allowed to feel that way. Too much of it too often and I'm afraid no one would listen.
This is not to say that we stand before crowds, screaming out, "Feast your eyes upon me, for I am Perfection!" They may not even inadvertently suggest they are the epitome of perfection. Fortunately, these folks are few and far between but we can spot them fairly quickly.
We've all known at least one self-perceived perfect person at some point in our life and travels. Basically, the most obvious tell-tale sign for recognizing these men and women is their unwillingness to accept responsibility for their own actions. They have an overabundance of reluctance to step forward and admit they screwed up. They do not recognize a single fault within their character, much less should they agree to entertain the possibility. Having said this, we will not point fingers nor cast stones. It is much more helpful and productive to understand these individuals in an effort to deal fairly with them and perhaps lead them toward the light.
Don't consider the Narcissist
Now is just as appropriate a time as any to mention something of importance about a certain group of people. The Narcissist. Forget them. We should all be aware that based on who they are, they are never wrong, make no mistakes and nothing of any negative result could possibly be their fault. These creatures live in a world all their own. We shall let them be.
a few words on the Narcissist
Who are these Perfection frauds?
We shall know them by their actions and their words. Often, we can recognize these characters by what they do not say and do, as in owning up to being the guy who screwed up the entire work project by remaining behind schedule. His story is quite different from the rest of the crew. He'll be happy to tell you of his many hours of labor and the creative ideas he brought to the table. Perhaps he'll even take full credit for keeping everyone motivated and producing at top level.
The reasons for all of this of course are that he's the guy with the brains and talent, always on the ball. For Mr. Wonderful, mistakes are not an option. He's very clever and convincing too. Sadly, his co-workers aren't impressed.....but they are disgusted. Here's a guy who will sacrifice respect and admiration for being perfect. He cannot and will not admit to having possibly been wrong, mistaken or a bit inadequate.
As you read, you have someone like this in mind, do you not? Your neighbor, mother-in-law, friend, foe.....whoever it is, they fit the description. Not very nice or comfortable people to be around, are they? They're probably successful as most perfection-driven people are. They drive nice cars and live quite well and dress impeccably all the time. The perfect image is an integral part of the game.
A curious issue with the self-described man or woman without flaws is that the very things they hope to achieve... respect, admiration, friends, are what they seem to lack. Don't bother to suggest this void to them for they'll quickly explain they're the innocent victims of envy and jealousy. Well, of course they are. Everyone wants to be them.
Let's think about the first time you met someone and your first impression of him or her. It's probable you were quite taken by their confident aura, their ability to speak well and their seemingly vast stash of knowledge. In the 30 minutes you spent in his/her presence, you were provided with a panoramic view of his lucrative career, lovely, talented wife and honor student children. He may have managed to sneak in a comment or two about his recent promotion, pay raise, vacation in Denmark and how he single-handedly landed a billion dollar account for his company. All this, because you must realize, he is the perfect man.
So, schmuck, what do you say to this guy? How does an average guy with a long list of mishaps and do-overs carry on an interesting conversation with him? What exactly will you share with him, man to man? How on earth can you relate to him, or he to you? You can't wait to get your sorry butt as far away from Mr. Wonderful as possible....before he reads your mind, which you begin to believe he can do.
This is as good a time as any to get real. We'll leave this guy with the person he admires most, himself. Let's take a serious in-depth look at the situation. What truly speaks well of someone and draws us to want to know them better? Surely it's not that he'll lie and fabricate, say and do whatever necessary to hide his flaws, to cover for inadequacies. Insults to our awareness and intelligence can leave a bad taste right out of the gate.
Give me the stand up, down-to-earth, authentic man or woman who faces the facts of who they are and who they are not. We want to work with the guy who will admit his expertise as well as his ability to fess up when he's made a typical oversight and is willing to clean up his mess. We'll freely respect and appreciate the person who can share a story with us about how he had to struggle through a crisis and ask for assistance because he just didn't have all the answers.
These are the human beings, imperfect by nature, who own their personal shortcomings.
The ones who admit when they're wrong, apologize when they've hurt someone and assume ownership of their own words and deeds. For these real people there's no need to look around for someone to blame. They don't make excuses or desperately attempt to save face at the expense of another......What it appears to be is what it is. I made a mistake, I'm imperfect. Can you imagine that?
There simply is no shame nor guilt involved. Quite the contrary. We applaud the honest individual who accepts responsibility and seeks to correct a problem. These are the heroes we recognize, the people we sincerely look up to. We can discuss with them and share our own woes with them and they'll understand. They do not judge, for in doing so, they judge themselves. We're all in this game as a team. Some learn quicker than others and can out-run, out-play their team members but we all make our effort and our contributions. The imperfect human can love freely and unconditionally, empathize, support and forgive his fellow man...and know he'll receive the same.
There's something very comforting about being imperfect. Much more than this, there's a beautiful freedom that comes with owning our faults without shame or guilt. Shame and guilt do not belong here. Not for a moment.
Being proud of who we are is a better place to be than always being right. Knowing we have given our all, straight from the heart and have few regrets will always be more of a comfort, than leaving hurt feelings behind on our way to the top. What do you say? Do you sincerely feel that who you are and what you have accomplished is enough just the way it is......although far from perfect? My hope for you is that you DO believe this and you've given yourself permission to look back and be grateful for it all.....the victories and the losses.
In the end, what is truly important is that we mattered in the lives of our loved ones.