As I was hanging out eating dinner during the last AASP (Association for Applied Sport Psychology) conference, in a steak joint in downtown Atlanta, a friend and colleague of mine recommended this book to me. I think something I said during our conversation alluded to the fact that maybe I would benefit from reading this book (whatever) and if you read my blog post about perfectionism, you will know that he was right.
The book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, is a wonderful and insightful book by research professor Brené Brown. Brown has spent much of her career studying shame, which inevitably led her to also study courage, compassion, and vulnerability. Her work on the latter was the catalyst for writing this book.
Part of what makes this book so appealing is how the author shares her own struggles with perfectionism and the realizations she makes about herself as she is doing her research. It helps you recognize that even when people you may perceive as having it all together are probably dealing with their own issues of perfectionism as well.
In the book she explores 10 “guideposts” that will allow you to start your own journey of letting go of perfectionism and being OK with who you are and where you’re at. Some of these guideposts are things I already believe in and practice passionately, and some were great reminders to get back to things I used to do. And then some were powerful new lessons that I think I will constantly be learning, like letting go of judgement, having self-compassion, and being OK with uncertainty.
I have always battled against my perfectionism and after reading this book, I’ve realized even that is a judgement of myself. I have recommended it to several friends and clients and now I am recommending it to you. If you’re not a pick-up-a-book-and-read type of person, you can also check out Brown’s work during her 2010 TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability and her 2012 TED talk on Listening to Shame.