I was leading a meeting recently that had been going through their agenda in the same way for almost a year. Recently changes had been made. The group is on board with these changes and they’ll be hugely beneficial in the long run; but it’s hard right now. In the course of teaching and experimenting and discussing, some folks started apologizing for not “doing it right” or “getting it quickly enough.” That’s when the lesson took a sidetrack!
No one (in that meeting or in life) who is important expects you to be perfect. What people (should) expect is for you to be present…and that’s exactly what I conveyed. I stopped the meeting and told everyone that we in no way expected them to be perfect. We simply asked them to be present, to learn and to keep going.
Whether it’s learning something new or spending time with another person, your presence is your greatest gift. In the learning context, being present helps to absorb new info faster. In relationships, I think we all know what a gift presence is. If you’re unsure, think about a time when you were spending time with someone and they were distracted, scrolling on their phone, looking elsewhere or just not listening. It doesn’t feel good…and I’d bet you weren’t wishing that person was perfect, simply that they were present.
What about being present instead of perfect for yourself? I’m thinking about things like shifts you’re trying to make or goals you’re trying to accomplish. How would they be different if your focus was on being present for them instead of trying to do them perfectly?
Your presence is the best thing that you can give to anyone, and to yourself. I promise – the people who really matter don’t expect you to be perfect. Take that pressure off yourself as well and practice being fully present in whatever you do.