Embracing Your Imperfections to Grow Your Business (the art of Wabi-Sabi)

 
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Instagram and Facebook are galleries of success.

Everyone around us seems to be achieving their dreams, drinking perfect lattes, and making the most out of every moment. The media savvy among us know that those beautiful, perfect social media posts are carefully curated and staged.

Behind every beautiful brand is a hardworking photographer/food stylist/makeup artist/interior designer. Even so… it can be hard to shake the feeling that we’re the only ones with struggles. As we sit in our sweatpants with unwashed hair, the beautiful lives of the popular and sometimes famous can seem completely out of reach. If you’ve ever taken photos for Instagram, you’ll know how much goes into getting the perfect angle, the perfect gust of wind, the perfect lighting.

There’s no way to live your life like an Instagram post!

Social media posts are like a performance of peak moments. Especially when you’re starting a business, it can feel like the everyone else has it all figured out.

Consider taking a different approach to stand out from the crowd: Wabi-Sabi is a traditional Japanese aesthetic worldview that embraces the transience and impermanence of life and everything within it. The most beautiful things, according to the Wabi-sabi aesthetic, are the asymmetrical, rough, simple, or broken ones. Imagine the feeling you have, of inadequacy, when you scroll through page after page of perfect presentation. Now imagine being a potential client, sharing those feelings, and coming across a post from you and your burgeoning new business.

What do you want that person to feel? Kinship? That out in the sea of perfect poses and idealized hair, maybe there’s someone who is willing to let their cracks show a little bit?

It’s possible to celebrate your flaws and maintain an aspirational online presence. Part of presenting a brand that people will flock to is offering a version of life that people want to engage with, after all.

There’s no need to expose every flaw you’ve got! But a chipped plate, or a haphazard scarf, admitting to your fears from time to time, can draw people to you in a way that presenting an infallible face all the time might not.

So how can you apply the concept of Wabi-Sabi to your online presence? Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Facebook Live: Streaming live to the internet is a great way to grow your viewership, but it can be scary! What if something goes wrong? What if something isn’t exactly as you planned? Hold on to your hat and take the plunge… part of Facebook Live’s appeal is that it’s unpredictable and unpolished.

  • Push Out Content: You may feel like every post must be polished and perfect before it can go out into the world. You’ll find yourself more productive if you let go of the idea that everything must be just so.

  • Reach Out: Inviting collaborators into your creative space can feel scary, especially if you’re not sure you’re ready to add another person to your process. Jumping into a team effort a bit before you feel absolutely stable is part of the entrepreneurial dance! Go for it.

  • Take Risks: This is a more general tip, but it applies to almost every piece of your work. Examine your impulses around your efforts, and note when you’re hesitating because something seems difficult or scary. Counterintuitively, that feeling of resistance might mean it’s the very path that will yield the most benefit.

You might find it surprisingly liberating to display your flaws with pride here and there. Appreciate your own asymmetry, your quirks and your business’ unique qualities without worrying about making it all perfect all the time. You might find yourself feeling lighter, and your brand may take on a new, more relatable, shape.

 
BusinessSamantha McKinney