As Westerners, we spend a lot of our waking hours (and one would guess, our dreamtime too) reaching for perfection. The concept that ‘nobody’s perfect’ has been written about, sung about, filmed about … and yet we are inundated with other imagery and messages that conflict, that make us believe on some level, just maybe, perfection is attainable. And so we set out, either consciously or unconsciously, seeking and striving for the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect partner, the perfect kids, the perfect car, the perfect meal, the perfect friends, the perfect Brand Strategy, the perfect website, the perfect blog post, and on and on it goes. No wonder we’re exhausted. No wonder so many of us turn to ways of escaping all this pressure to be perfect.
We might take a lesson from ancient Japanese wisdom. Wabi-sabi is a notion which nurtures what is authentic by acknowledging three simple truths: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, irregularity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the objects and processes of nature. In a word, I would call it peace. An acceptance and understanding of what is. A calm acceptance that life is fluid.
How does this relate to Brand Marketing? As Marketers, we spend a lot of time defining our target audience. What makes them tick? What do they want? What I’m finding these days is that no matter who our particular audience is, they generally don’t want more pressure to be perfect. They want to be inspired, they want authenticity. These days more people are reaching toward the Japanese world view of wabi-sabi. We are looking within more. Letting go of outside influencers that contribute to our need for perfection (which by the way, does not exist). It’s just more sane, really.
Ever since I adopted my puppy, Brodie, a couple of months ago — I have really noticed a change in my perspective. I’m lighter. I’m finding joy in simple things like crisp November morning walks, writing a great headline (although I’ve always appreciated that!) and being woken up way-too-early by the happy spirit of a 5-month old puppy who can hardly wait to start another day. Brodie is helping me be more flexible, too. To see that I can have fun and still be productive. This slight shift has me looking at new ways to approach my work. To be open to the constant changes and find perfection in the fleeting moments in between the big presentations, deadlines and campaign launches. Living a balanced life knowing that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect seems like the perfect way to position yourself and your business for a rich and creative life. Like a way to position yourself for success.
I don’t entirely agree that ‘nothing is perfect.’ I do believe we experience moments of perfection; a breath-taking sunset, the smile of a loved one, laughter of a child, or creating a beautiful ad that inspires. If we can spend more time appreciating those perfect moments, knowing that nothing lasts and nothing is finished we can learn to be more present and less focused on what’s missing from our less-than-perfect lives.
Total Brand Agency