Five Reasons Scars Are Better than Perfection

Scar running across a woman's abdomenOne day my four-year-old son was sitting on my lap, intently studying my face. Finally, he asked, “What’s that?”

“What’s what, honey?”

“That,” he said, pointing to the faint white line snaking just above my left eyebrow.

“Ah, yes. That is a scar I got when I was about your age,” I explained, telling him the whole story about how my face was on the losing end of a fight with a lawn swing.

I don’t wear my scar as a badge. It’s just something that I got from being really young and stupid, but I don’t feel the need to try to hide it, either. When I had my professional portrait taken, I remember saying, “Don’t bother to touch that up. People are going to see it when they meet me, anyway.” I didn’t feel the need to give off an image of perfection.

As a job seeker, do you try to hide your “scars” — the flaws in your career? Even if you have been steadily employed since you started your first job, it isn’t a good idea to pretend that your career has been a steady line upward. Why not?

1. You’re not fooling anyone. Who do you know who is perfect? Even when you look to your mentors and idols, you won’t find an unblemished one in the bunch. Everyone has made mistakes at some point in their lives. To try to pretend you have not had any problems in your career shows a lack of authenticity.

2. Scars give you character. The mistakes you make while in your jobs set you apart from the rest of the crowd. They shape how you approach your work and can give you a distinctive voice. Why would you want to erase that?

3. Scars show you took a chance. Playing it safe isn’t always the best tactic. You need to break out of your comfort zone and take a chance to be able to further develop your skills. You’re not always going to succeed when you try something for the first time, but it’s better for you to have given it a shot than to have completely backed away from the challenge.

4. They provided opportunities to learn. Sometimes a small cut that readily heals doesn’t provide enough of a learning opportunity. Those can be forgotten. Something that scars you provides a lasting reminder of what happened. Sharing those scars and the subsequent lessons in job interviews allows you to show your wisdom and your growth as a professional.

5. Scars show you can bounce back from pain. Disappointment can come in many forms — failure of a project you were heading, not getting a promotion, being laid off. And those blows continue at varying intensities throughout everyone’s careers. It’s going to be a big problem if, at the sign of a setback, you curl into the fetal position and cry endlessly. Being able to tolerate the pain and have the strength to go at it again or formulate a different approach is critical for success. Without that tenacity, you will just leave failures and half-finished projects in your wake.

How else can your scars be an asset?

Image courtesy of Becky Wetherington

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