Why Are We More Successful When We Are Not Perfect?

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Let’s face the truth: there are no perfect people, and even if there were any, we would hate their guts. Do you feel irritated when someone constantly tries to seem perfect? I do, a lot!

being perfect

Perfectionism related to appearance, knowledge, abilities, etc. is off-putting. Nevertheless, envy is not the cause for it. In fact, we know that when someone or something seems too good to be true it probably isn’t; and if someone constantly ties to expose an impeccable image from the outside, inside there must be something truly rotten.

We realize that perfection is unnatural and in the rare cases when we believe that someone or something is perfect, we are either being manipulated or we deceive ourselves.

This is actually a good thing. Especially when you finally realize that there is no such thing as a job perfectly done. Once we free ourselves from this illusion, we can leave it to the world to decide if our little cracks are deal-breakers or not in every specific situation (job, relationship, etc.).

Take for example the Pratfall effect – it was discovered by the social psychologist Elliot Aronson in 1966 at the University of Minnesota where he was conducting an experiment on likability. The psychologist found out that people sympathize most with the competent individuals who sometimes make mistakes, admit those mistakes, and move on. For the purpose of the experiment Aronson measured the likability of two people who competed in a game. One of them wasn’t very competent and answered about 30% of the questions right; the other one, responded correctly to 92% of the questions. Needless to say, people sympathized more with the more competent figure, but not really that much more. What happens when the competent person (as part of the experiment) spills his cup of coffee, though? People LOVE him! His likability jumps to the ceiling.

Why?

In my opinion, this happens because it is easier for us to identify with the winner when he/she has some flaws. We recognize him/her as one of us, because we all have these Pratfall moments.

Competence is indeed the base of success. Without it we wouldn’t go very far, but once we establish our skills, any small mistake that we make, makes us look more human, more likable, more real. Trust me, all our little flaws work for us, once we prove that we are capable of coping with some job, and if we don’t try to hide them, they will be accepted with a smile. We don’t have to be flawless even in the tasks that we do really well. If we are open to accept some creative criticism and if we are ready to admit our mistakes, they will make us invincible.

For instance, I wouldn’t even think of publishing a text without giving it to two or more redactors. Due to my mild dyslexia it is impossible for me to write without spelling mistakes, punctuation is a mystery for me, as are other grammar rules. It is a miracle that I was able to learn a second language; yet, I learned a third language too and defended a PhD dissertation in it. Now I write a blog in 3 languages with the help of two spell check programs and the redaction of my friend and colleague Carolina Dias. I still struggle with orthography but I can’t let it ruin my dreams.

I wouldn’t have become a writer if I were afraid to practice all the languages I speak. I wouldn’t have gotten my degree in psychoanalysis if I had expected to understand everything about the human mind in the first place. It is such a broad subject! Nobody knows everything, even in the sphere where one specializes in. Just keep doing what you do well and learn more and more from your experience. You can criticize yourself, but you are not allowed to give up!

Once we accept the fact that we can’t be perfect, and then we will have the freedom to DO the things. Trust me, people who like you will like your pratfalls too, and maybe they will reach out to help if they can. Don’t reject their help.

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