The people you admire and look up to — they’re far from perfect.The organizations where you’ve worked and have happy memories of — they’re far from perfect.
The presidential campaign in America is heating up with the debates amongst Democratic candidates seeking to run against the current President getting more heated. I sometimes wonder how it will be to have similar debates in India where the candidates who are standing for any important post, debate one another before people cast their vote.
Another interesting thing occurs during these debates — nothing is censored anymore when it comes to the history of the candidates that are running. Every decision they made in the past, every blunder, nothing is spared.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden has been in politics for nearly 50 years and in that time, has made some moves which cast a bit of a shadow over his views on race. His opponents have not spared him regarding many of things that he did or didn’t do.
In the second debate, Kamala Harris, who has served as a senator, district attorney and attorney general, got called out on some of the controversial decisions that she has made in the past, leaving her red-faced.
Before any election, voters have this picture of a perfect candidate in their heads, even if they know one doesn’t exist. We want our candidates to have led pious lives and have spotless resumes. By the time the debates conclude, one will be hard-pressed to find any candidate that hasn’t made some faux-pas, some misjudgment, some error, some miscalculation leading up their candidature.
This isn’t just apparent in politics.
Diego Maradona is probably the greatest footballer of all time and led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup. Here’s what else is there on his record — he was sent back from the 1994 football world cup after testing positive for drugs, has been photographed partying with the mafia, and shot at journalists with an air gun. No stranger to the fast life, his drug, and alcohol abuse nearly killed him. Yet, if you saw him tomorrow in person, you will still be in awe. The odds of you taking out his rap sheet and telling him ‘here’s why I refuse to shake hands and take a selfie with you’ are close to nil.
In this late-night interview, Stephen Colbert asks Jerry Seinfeld if he is still able to see and appreciate Bill Cosby’s comedy in the light of the horrible accusations that put him in prison where he will probably die. Seinfeld replied in the affirmative saying he could differentiate Bill Cosby’s comedy from his terrifying crimes against women.
Sachin Tendulkar, by most counts, tried to lead a controversy-free life, something near-impossible for someone who had such a long career as him. But people still hold one thing against him — the fact that he hardly spoke during the match-fixing crisis that engulfed cricket in the late 90s. He barely mentioned it even in his autobiography which came out after he retired. One would think that a sportsperson who played the sport with so much passion will also speak out against things like match and spot-fixing that threaten the very foundation of the sport, but that was not to be.
Of course, certain things can’t be overlooked when making an important decision but this quixotic expectation of perfection is unrealistic by any stretch of the imagination. We try to do a similar thing in our CVs and interviews — paint ourselves as perfect with little or no flaws. We wait for the perfect time, look for the perfect jobs, the ones that offer us millions in stock options with very little hard work required.
The people you admire and look up to — they’re far from perfect.
The organizations where you’ve worked and have happy memories of — they’re far from perfect.
They might seem that way to you, but that’s just your opinion.
For someone like me who has a tendency to see things in black and white, separating people from their flaws and mistakes is very hard. It has also cost me a few friendships and relationships on the way.
Ironing out flaws is one thing. Looking for someone or something without flaws is an exercise in futility. What you should be asking is how much do those flaws matter to you. It’s the same thing someone on the other side of the table judging you is asking themselves.
Perfect, imperfect, flaws, mistakes, all of them are merely the stories we tell ourselves and others tell about us.