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Why Removing the Shame of Imperfection is Key to Unlocking Creativity

Katy Moore By Katy Moore • December 8, 2020

One of the reasons I enjoy working at Snapsheet is the culture we created where diverse perspectives can not only be shared, they can be embraced. 

To practice this value, we recently created a virtual roundtable discussion series. It’s an impactful way for all of us to come together and share our experiences in a time when we are socially isolated. What better way to connect than an open forum with trusted peers? 

At a recent roundtable, we focused on perfectionism

Ask anyone if they’d like things to be perfect and they’ll likely say yes. Who wouldn’t? Perfection is inevitably rewarded by accolades, pay raises, and most of all, we won’t have to face the feeling of shame that often comes with failed expectations.

“Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
The Perfect Trap

Naturally, perfection finds its way into the workplace. Because we live in a competitive culture, we are led to believe that perfection at all costs is the key to unlocking success.

However, perfection can also be a cage. Following the rules exactly as they are written is the direct opposite of creativity. With our industry and culture moving at such a fast clip, companies are forced to rethink how they connect with customers all the time. Exactly what companies need is creativity, but they won’t get it by rewarding conformity

Employees driven by perfection and conformity miss the opportunities and learnings that come from mistakes. After all, getting things wrong is sometimes the only way we can know how to finally get them right. Innovation requires us to break away from what we know, shed our fear of imperfection, and lean into the growth that happens if we fall short.

Embracing Imperfection  

Our roundtable revealed that perfectionism is a human experience that evades no one: The stories shared came from perspectives that varied by age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, and more. We all have hidden pressures and expectations that leave us feeling unworthy if we’ve failed to meet them, but the beauty of sharing these experiences in a group is the opportunity to be met with support, acceptance, and belonging. As Brené Brown puts it, “Shame loses power when it is spoken.” 

It’s inspiring to be at a company where people can still come together in a time when we are socially distant and feel safe to put down their shields of perfectionism. When we embrace one another, people can show up as themselves and creativity will follow.

Katy Moore

About the Author

Katy Moore

Talent Development Specialist

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