The Imperfect is Perfect

A few days ago I was chatting with my neighbor about her adorable three pound puppy. Axel is the epitome of cuteness. He is sweet and mellow, great with kids…the list goes on. I was surprised when my neighbor told me that she saved a significant amount of money when purchasing Axel because his tongue is too big for his mouth due to an issue with his jaw, making him ineligible to be used for breeding. (Frankly, I think it is one of his cutest features.) Regardless of his imperfection, Axel was the perfectly imperfect fit for their family.

The Perfect Time Suck

How often do we focus all of our energy on being perfect?

  • Selecting the perfect Facebook profile image, or making sure to edit photos before uploading them to our feed (so much so that when people see us in person we are unrecognizable)?
  • Leaving the new and improved website unpublished for the world to see until it is perfect?
  • Not publishing the white paper or e-book because it’s not ready.

Things will NEVER be ready if we are always waiting for perfect!

Personally, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on it. The myth of perfection is a time suck that is stealing efficiency and productivity. I am not saying we settle for mediocrity I am suggesting that we be authentic and focus on what really matters. Here’s the thing, everyone — including every business and nonprofit has their imperfections. It’s choosing how to embrace them that will set you apart from the competition.

Embrace the Perfectly Imperfect

This is not to say that you shouldn’t focus attention on making every fragment of your branding perfectly imperfect. No joke, consistent branding is incredibly important, but consistent doesn’t necessarily mean perfect. But it does mean that you can show the world that you are human. People respect authenticity. People don’t want “Facebook fake.” They see right through it. They support and relate to authentic “Oops!” moments! My favorite cupcake shop recently demonstrated this when an entire batch of cupcakes came out of the oven burnt to a crisp (the horror). Instead hiding their misfortune and pretending that each batch of yummy goodness they bake comes out perfectly every time, the business paused to post the photo of the burnt cupcakes in all their charred glory. Their followers engaged with the post and commiserated with the store over the lost treats. They moved on and baked another batch of sugary goodness and increased their engagement with their fans for the day.

The Trolls are KILLING my Rep

Let’s look at another example: the dreaded negative social media review or comment. (Dun! Dun! Duuuuun!!!) In my last blog, I wrote about how coffee giant Starbucks embraced what could have been a PR disaster and turned it into a positive opportunity for growth for the company. Your negative feedback may not be as disastrous as Starbucks’ was, but nevertheless, the first reaction of a business owner is often to get offended, then hide or remove the negative feedback. That will get you nowhere good — fast! Rather, the best course of action is to embrace what is true in the feedback, grow from it, drive the conversation offline and offer a resolution. If a hater just wants to hate, it’s ok. Respond with compassion and offer to help. If you can’t help, explain why. The more authentic — and positive — you are in your response, the better the outcome will be. Also, by leaving the negative review, potential customers will see your authenticity and trust your message moving forward.

If you hide the negative feedback, you will likely take something small and inflame it into something much larger and could drive the person to other online and offline platforms in order to be heard. It is best to address the feedback where it is. Besides, if you only have 5-star reviews it may appear that you have purchased fans. Even the best organizations in the world have some negative feedback, even if it is from a troll. True fans and customers can easily tell the difference between what is reality and what is fake.

Self-deprecating fun

Another way to embrace your imperfections is by celebrating them.

  • Did your staff have a goofy dress-up day? Post it.
  • Did a typo make its way into a carefully crafted piece? If it’s funny (and non-offensive), post it.
  • Equipment failure due to technology, mechanical issues or the weather? Post it.

Don’t wait for others to find your mistake. If you do, you lose control of your story. Let’s go back to the sad cupcakes. If the business owner had chosen to ignore them and move on, she wouldn’t have gotten all of the positive feedback that followed. Also, it turns out that her ovens needed some major maintenance that caused her to close shop for several days for repairs. Because she was honest about what was going on, customers flocked to the store to stock up and anxiously awaited it’s reopening.

Just do you – well!

It is impossible to be perfect and striving for it is exhausting. Just be who you are, own it and people will love your true, authentic self much more than the fake one you think everyone wants you to be. If your tongue is too big for your mouth or your cupcakes are burnt, let people know. You may find that it is your most endearing feature. If you need help sorting through the social media noise and finding your voice, let’s chat. I’d love to help!

Picture of Anna Patty

Anna Patty

Anna is a Fundraising Consultant, Graphic/Web Designer, Marketing Strategist, Media Relations Professional and Event Planner. Anna holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa with degrees in Journalism and Spanish and has spent over a decade creating strategic and cost-effective strategies for organizations looking to grow their missions. She and her husband, Sean, have four very energetic kids, two boys and two girls.

Growing Ideas