Recently, I was listening to a podcast in which Reshma Saujani spoke about her reason for starting Girls Who Code, a US non-profit dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. Many things she said deeply resonated, but one woke me up.
She related the story of a girl in her program who called the teacher over, displayed a blank screen and said, “I don’t know how to code this.” Saujani said if the teacher had hit the undo button several times she would have realised that the girl had made attempts, but was more comfortable showing the teacher a blank screen than showing her imperfect attempts.
She contrasted this with how she saw boys engage with technology - just having a go at it, taking risks, with no need to get it perfect from the beginning. She concluded, "We teach our girls to be perfect and our boys to be brave." Smack in the forehead – that is/was me. Perfect, Not Brave.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve come a long way in letting go of my perfectionist tendencies. In fact, I call myself a recovering perfectionist and the more I let go of striving for perfection the better my life has become. Settling into accepting my imperfection has many beautiful ripples; I’m more relaxed, flexible and accepting of others, for example. But until I heard this podcast I’d not truly understood the door that now stood before me, mine to open and walk through if I choose.
The Door Marked “Be Brave.”
What lies on the other side of Be Brave?
New experiences, expanded creativity, leaps in professional development, deeper love, greater opportunities to share my gifts with more people. How can I say no to that?
Decision made. For the rest of 2016 my mantra is:
Be Brave, Not Perfect
Of course, it isn't enough to have a mantra - even a kick ass one like Be Brave, Not Perfect. For real change to happen action has to match intention. So, to kick off I’ve organized an intrepid group of women (and daughters) to join me in learning to belay and rock climb on Tuesday, Women’s Day in South Africa. After that, I'm putting myself out there for a few out-of-my-comfort-zone professional opportunities. Whooo Hooo.
What about you? Is striving to be Perfect keeping you from enjoying all the things that lie on the other side of the Brave door? If so, wanna borrow my mantra? And then, what is one action you can take in the coming week to practice letting go of perfect and embracing brave. Comment below. I’d love to hear.