In Search of Progress over Perfection

You don’t need to be perfect to inspire people. 

A great number of those I interact with know that I am passionate about two things watches 😊 and leadership. I will however be quick also to state that I am not the Mona Lisa of Leadership and neither do I own or pick out the best master time pieces yet. My blog site is aptly named www.journaloftheincompleteleader.com just to constantly remind myself that I am incomplete and in constant search. This is a name I derived partly from inspiration I received from reading two books, One is – Jordan B Peterson’s, 12 Rules For Life; An Antidote to Chaos. In which the 4th Rule states “ Compare yourself to who you were yesterday not to who someone else is today” and HBR’s Collection, On Leadership, an article titled “In Praise of the Incomplete Leader” by Deborah Ancona et.al. 

Like others who do the same in various other disciplines, be it offering Financial advice or relationship advice et.al, more often than not you receive your fair share of the judgment. Many believe and falsely expect that because you openly and constantly share and study, in your area, you embody the picture of perfection in the respective area. Although only fair though that once you declare such interest and go public about it, then you strive to gain moral and or intellectual authority not only through theory but also practical application of the said knowledge and or skills, it can be a heavy burden to bear. 

Like any other skill, Leadership can be learned and, for me, it is an area that I purposely strive to learn and improve in both through theoretical study and practical use of that knowledge and skill. To grow in this area, I have used two mantras in this journey. First, Progress over perfection, and secondly, curiosity over judgment. 

Progress over perfection

As we journey through our areas of mastery, we learn and encounter new ideas some of which are aligned to what we already know and believe to be true and others that are either incomplete or partial conflict with our deeply held convictions. It is through the latter that we make great progress. And it is only when we chase progress that we can have a chance at perfection. 

By constantly opening up ourselves to challenge those ideas or concepts we have held to be true, we open up our minds to the possibility of progress. 

“Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to whom someone else is today”

In order it Progress we have both to learn and unlearn, 

Curiosity over judgment 

Many times I have suffered from and continue to suffer from what is known in Decision-making circles as The Dunning-Kruger effect

“A type of cognitive bias in which we believe that we are smarter and more capable than we are. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leading to overestimate our capabilities.”

But as I become more informed about leadership I pray I constantly remind myself of the need to choose curiosity over judgment. 

For it is only through maintaining a curious mind, that we can realize how little we know about a subject. This is especially true when we interact with others. Resist the temptation to think you have it figured out, you must not fool yourself, the easiest person to fool is you, but also the hardest person to lead is you. 

Bringing it Together 

So yes, people will expect perfection from you, you will be judged more harshly when you fail or make a mistake. Take it with stride, have confidence but stay humble. Great leaders don’t doubt themselves because they are imperfect, they doubt themselves because they know they are incomplete and are on a journey. 

The greatest mark of lifelong learners is that they maintain curiosity, they know that their views may constantly be challenged and that is when they learn. They also understand that each answer results in a new question, and each question presents a chance to re-examine the answers. 

So, No I don’t need to be perfect to inspire people, let them be inspired by how I deal with my imperfections. 

Yours truly,

The Imperfect Leader.

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