A couple of years ago, Ryan Holiday wrote a book that has changed the perception of many people about their trials and tribulations. In “The Obstacle is the Way – The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph,” He uses the concept of Stoicism and provides lots of examples where people have been “refined in the crucible of human experience.” His goal was to share insights into how to overcome obstacles whether they be mental, physical, emotional or simply perceived obstacles.
To me, the true value of the book comes from showing us much more. It’s not about “overcoming.” It is more about “embracing and finding the hidden gift” in what is seen as an obstacle.
When I told people I was building this platform by the name “Passion for Imperfection,” some responded with conversation about their OCD with perfection. They thought I would be talking about overcoming perfectionism. I really don’t see this community in that way. Of course, perfectionism is a type of imperfection in and of itself.
So, if you see this website being about a struggle with perfectionism, I would encourage you to embrace your tendency to be a perfectionist and find how this aspect of who you are offers gifts to yourself and others. Just like people with other challenges, there is a “silver lining” in perfectionism. Find the silver lining. Embrace it as an essential aspect of who you are. Then launch yourself into the world, equipped with this quirky trait, and make a difference in your life and the lives of others.
When Marcus Aurelius was emperor of the Roman Empire he wrote: “Our actions may be impeded…but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” (I copied this text from Holiday’s book mentioned earlier.)
While Holiday’s book makes a case for stoicism, I take the same text and embrace the phrase, “The impediment to action advances action.” My wish for you is to examine how you show up in the world. Identify the things that make you different. And use those “impediments” to spur you into action.
Please learn to love your differences. If everyone were to see the imperfections of their human existence as a gift, I believe we would all be happier, healthier and be making a huge contribution to the world.
If anyone reading this is in middle school or high school and you are being bullied. Pay attention to what they are bullying you about. Are they ridiculing your nerd characteristics? Are they saying your too short – or – tall? Do they make fun of your intelligence – or – lack of intelligence? Whatever the bullies are seeing in you as a fault can be your greatest chance to be exceptional.
All you need to do is this – again I am quoting from Holiday’s book – it’s as simple as 1-2-3:
- Alter Your Perception
- Take Action
- Discipline Your Will
I said it was simple, but we both know it won’t be easy. Join the conversation and ask how to do what you need to do to maximize your life by embracing your “imperfections.”