Nature – and Life – Evolve Through Imperfection

I was listening to Adrian Bejan’s book, The Physics of Life, and was struck by his writing on how nature doesn’t seek perfection. “Nothing flows ideally,” Bejan says. “Every flow system is destined to remain imperfect. The struggle of nature is to be the least imperfect it can be.” Consider how a river is continuously being co-created by the water and the bank, and you’ll have the gist.

The imperfection creates a sense of friction between what is and what is wanting to be. A creative urge exists at the nexus between the two. It made me wonder what would happen if, as humans, we leaned into and sought to learn from that imperfection in our own lives and in our organizations. Talk about a reframing! Rather than seeking to get everything just right and holding back until it feels ‘perfect’, we could embrace the imperfection sooner – experiment with ways of reducing the friction.

Then I started thinking about this in relation to my own writing, which has been an ongoing struggle for me. I have so much to say, which I can comfortably share verbally. But when it comes to writing it down, it is a painful process – so painful in fact that I usually don’t write.

Why? Because I am trying to get it perfect, and I allow my fear of imperfection, of criticism – or worse, indifference – to hold me hostage. Even now I can feel it. What is the purpose of my writing? Is it to show my expertise, my brilliance? That would make sense if I believed that I am the only one with these ideas or insights, and, as such, can’t risk imperfection with the way I communicate them.

But I’m not the only one with these ideas and insights. As a living system that is part of numerous living systems all comprising a whole, I am merely one of many who are channeling the wisdom of the whole.

When I realize that imperfection will help me evolve, then I want and need to lean in.

I want to connect with others – not only to share, but to learn and co-create. I begin to see my potential “audience” as co-creators, not merely critics. What a great opportunity for personal growth and development.

As you head off to your day, I invite you to think about what becomes possible for you when you see and lean into imperfection as guidance and wisdom.