By Mollie Otieno, a Learning and Development Expert
Who am I – I mean really, who am I? Many of us have struggled with understanding who we are. We didn’t find ourselves before our work life, partnered life, and parent life, and we just assumed an understanding of one’s self is based on the opinions of others. Now, as we seek to establish ourselves as a whole person, we are struggling and asking similar questions.
An important reason for this search of self is something I have been working to discover. I am seeking to find my personal brand – figuring out what I want to be known for in my personal and professional life, my values, my life purpose, my “soul.” Figuring out what makes me – well me — showing people why I am such a kick-ass human.
I’ve always worked hard but didn’t find a real challenge until I became a Learning and Development professional. In this role of teaching and coaching others, to be more effective in their role, I’ve had to come to terms with some of my not-so-pleasant parts. However, the biggest challenge I have had was accepting that I am not perfect. I AM NOT PERFECT – and that is okay. Because, hey, I am “perfectly imperfect,” and I am learning how to practice that each day. “Perfectly imperfect” means I must be constantly humbled by my inability to be perfect while acknowledging that it is because of my imperfections, I become the authentic me. Being “perfectly imperfect” doesn’t mean I stop trying to be my best. It does mean, I fess up to my flaws and have integrity with myself and others when my flaws reveal themselves. It does mean that I don’t have to diminish my efforts when they don’t turn out perfect, but instead, they turn out real, authentic, and human – me.
Over my different careers, one role has challenged my sense of self, being a Learning and Development professional. It has challenged my writing, my image, and my voice – both tone and words. I have cried and rejoiced on my journey. I have questioned my choice and direction and stood steadfast in my journey. I have said “all I can do, is all I can do, and that is enough”- wondering the whole time if that is admitting defeat – telling myself I am a failure at being me. I have worked with friends who expect everything to be perfect and are paralyzed to do anything by this impossible standard and at the end of the day accomplished nothing. I have worked with friends that were perfectly comfortable with doing a half-ass job. So how is one to find their place in the healthy middle? Well folks, finding this balance is not easy and is something I have tried continuously to accomplish these last three-years in my job as a Learning and Development professional.
Having worked with my credit union for six years, I have been a teller who survived an armed bank robbery, successfully prevented fraud, and took counterfeit currency. I was a consultant who met their goal every month and royally screwed up loan documents. I was a loss mitigation team member who saved members from financial down-fall and went into executive meetings with modification proposals that didn’t answer all the questions they asked. Now, as a Learning and Development specialist, I have championed slow learners and stumbled over words in front of large groups of experts. At each stage of my credit union journey, I have had leaders tell me I was terrible, and I have had leaders that have told me I was great. But the best leaders are the ones that celebrated my strengths and challenged me to grow and push myself. It was these leaders who let me discover that I am not perfect, but “perfectly imperfect.” I am now and forever a work in process. I will do great; I will stumble, and I understand that these are all part of personal and professional growth. At the end of the day, I am a mother, a wife, a credit union employee, and last but not least – I am Mollie, a “perfectly imperfect” human.