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Work Daze – The Problem with Perfect

Let’s be honest here – it’s not easy being perfect.

Being perfect, I know this for a fact, and even though you are somewhat less perfect than I – we’re being honest here, remember? – you also have, no doubt, experienced the pain and frustration of being surrounded by individuals who could absolutely gain from adopting all aspects of your perfection, but who are just too imperfect to realize it.

Like I say, it’s not easy being perfect.

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While many of us perfect beings have found less-than-perfect mates who will actually put up with us and our perfections, it is often difficult to find the same level of tolerance in our working lives. This is a major source of tsuris for us perfect beings. While at home we can find happiness with a lovely lady, or a handsome dude – or, more likely, an extremely forgiving poodle, parrot or hamster – our work lives are plagued by the constant irritation of rubbing elbows, shoulders and brains with a bunch of inadequate, incompetent, insufferable louts and losers.

And what makes this situation even more difficult is that most of these highly imperfect beings are our bosses.

For years, I have been looking for a way to deal with the highly imperfect humanoids with whom we perfect beings have to work. As it happens, the answer was waiting for me at the Tiny Buddah blog.

[This should not come as a surprise. Eastern mystics routinely perform rituals like sleeping on a bed of nails. Compared to your job, that’s a piece of cake.]

My pursuit of Zen wisdom paid off. I found an article on the site by Raeeka titled, “Every Imperfect Person Has Something to Teach Us.”

The title alone gave me hope, and I’m sure you feel the same way. If spending time with imperfect people is a learning experience, a day at your workplace is the equivalent of Ph.D.s from Harvard, Yale and Princeton, combined.

While I think we can definitely pat ourselves on the back for our willingness to tolerate idiots, Raeeka is even more forgiving.

“I have always seen what I perceive to be negative traits in others as opportunities to develop patience or kindness towards them,” she writes. “I see it as a struggle they are going through, and if I can be patient or kind, then it helps them.”

This is admirable. When your manager gives you an impossible task with an insane deadline, instead of fuming and fussing and sticking even more pins in the most sensitive areas of your teeny-tiny manager voodoo doll, you say to yourself, “What a terrible struggle my manager must be going through. Perhaps I can help resolve the pain by quitting early, going to the Kit Kat Klub for many cocktails, and then calling in sick for the next two weeks.”

Sound harsh? Not if you follow Raeeka’s advice for when “a colleague, friend or acquaintance is abrasive or aggressive. I try to mentally extend loving thoughts to them.”

Hey, if you can’t extend loving thoughts from the bar of the Kit Kat Klub, what hope is there?

Another way to deal with the imperfections of your co-workers and managers is to “think about what it’s like to be in their shoes.” This could be a good strategy if your co-workers and managers wear decent shoes. You can think Louboutin. You can think Manolo Blahnik. But Mootsies Tootsies – forget it!

In her exploration of how to deal with the imperfections of other, Raeeka is quite hard on herself.

“It was always about being more patient with grumpiness, being more loving than animosity, opening my heart to a closed one,” she admits. “I had forgotten that I also had the potential to be quite annoying or difficult, too.”

I feel for Raeeka. I respect Raeeka, but I think you and I know there is nothing at all difficult or annoying about us. And, at the risk of being difficult, I have to agree that Raeeka does have her imperfections. As she herself admits, she is “someone who proclaims she’s on a vegan diet this week and then sneaks in a bit of cheese in a moment of weakness.”

Being unable to resist the lure of Velveeta is definitely an imperfection. A perfect person like me or thee would not admit wrongdoing for anything less than a large Pizza Hut Cheeseburger-Crust Pizza with extra cheeseburgers.

We may not be tiny Buddhas, but there will always be a place in business for big fat Buddhas, too.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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