12 head shot Cortney McDermottby beCause Global Associate Cortney McDermott – her Perfectly Imperfect series is about acknowledging and embracing our individual gifts and quirks-our perfect imperfection.  ***   It’s time we release the idea that every part of us must be “perfect” and we open to our full creative potential as unique beings. Stay here to learn how to replace guilt, worry and self-criticism with joy, wonder and purpose.

So many of my clients — brilliant men and women with impressively successful lives and careers — experience self-doubt and engage in self-criticism to an extent I rarely see in other folks.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, that you’re juggling a gazillion things at once and not giving yourself enough credit. You may also throw the occasion mudsling party, where you’re the only guest.

When not-good-enough and self-sabotage do swing by, it’s because you’ve lost your direction; you’re so overwhelmed/overworked/overstimulated you can’t remember your WHY (Why did I say yes to to more work, same pay? Why in the world did I start by own business? Why did I come into the kitchen again?). You’ve lost your sense of purpose and focus.

The good news is that you can quickly regain your direction and determination in a matter of minutes — yes, minutes (and, yes, even when you’re swamped and feeling totally uninspired). Here are three surefire hacks to move past insecurity and into purposeful intent NOW:

#1: MEDITATE! I know, I know… you hear it everywhere. And there’s a reason for that: IT WORKS. Dedicating even just a few minutes a day to stillness will dramatically improve your ability to get and stay focused. And, as you go deeper into the practice, you’ll also experience what I call Dynamic Peace — your decisions will be more systematic and intentional, all those moving parts in your life will fit and flow more harmoniously, and your intuition and sense of interconnectedness will kick into sixth gear (kind of like the OS Scarlett Johansson in Her).

Now if you’re saying, “That all sounds great, Cortney, but I’ve tried meditation and it didn’t work,” Wayne Dyer’s Gap Meditation just might do the trick. It did for me back when I thought I’d never get my mind into that quiet, “connected” state everyone was talking about. (Use the shorter version if you’re pressed for time.) And if you need a step before that, try this: decide today to dedicate 3-5 minutes (set a timer) at the same time every day for the next 21 days (schedule this as you would any other appointment) to close your eyes and breathe deeply, gently bringing your attention back to your breath every time it strays. This exercise alone will work miracles.

#2: DANCE! Okay, so I like to dance. But any intense physical burst will INSTANTLY change your mind-body stance. Taking a five-minute break to jump around immediately alters your perspective and heightens your energy, putting you in a more positive, productive state. And, if you’re hard pressed for five minutes or you don’t enjoy jumping, even just a two-minute power pose is proven to significantly reduce stress and increase your willingness to face your fears — on a biochemical level. So, whether you feel like grooving to the Happy Song or posing like Wonder Woman or Superman, here’s the point: this activity will positively affect your mind-body chemistry in just a few minutes. Now that’s impressive ROI.

#3 GIVE! One of the simplest and quickest ways to move past uncertainty and overwhelm is to give. I’m not talking about money (although power to you if you can give financially to a cause you believe in). I’m talking about giving your PRESENCE: a friendly smile, a door held open just a bit longer for the next person to pass through, a heartfelt conversation with a co-worker, a letter of gratitude to your parent(s), a hot text to your partner/spouse, a relaxing chat with an old friend, a genuine compliment to a shop clerk… The possibilities are endless!

In her best-selling book 10 Mindful Minutes, Goldie Hawn (yes, the Academy-Award winning actress) outlines the benefits of kindness:

  • it activates personal initiative,
  • deepens happiness, and
  • engenders optimism.

Run an experiment this week, and amp up your giving. Be creative with your strategies, and open to new situations that allow you to be present and give. See what it does for you!And, hey, you can start giving right now! Join the conversation below and help others with your personal strategies to transforming insecurity into purposeful intent. Your advice can help us all on our journey to accepting our perfect imperfection. ——-

2015-08-15- Cortney Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect, was first published on Huffington Post. Simple|Sustain|Ability as her philosophy, Cortney is an internationally sought after communications and business-life strategist. An award-winning author and inspirational speaker, she advises Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurial leaders on strategic communications, sustainable innovation and business strategy.  She has served as an executive at Vanity Fair Corporation, Vice President at Sustainability Partners, Professor of graduate studies for a consortium of Big Ten universities, and Chair of global business organizations. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics and a certified cultural mediator in multiple languages.

{ 20 comments… add one }

  • Peter Cook August 30, 2015, 10:08 am

    I both understand the damaging effect of self sabotage and I suspect it also has a positive intent Cortney.

    People who are interested in excellence are often highly critical of shortfalls, however minor, especially in themselves. It’s something people often observe in me – I am, in effect, my own worst critic and it does have some negative downsides.

    However, were I to be completely “horizontal” about my expectations and performance, I suspect I would not have gotten to the place I wanted to be.

    It is of course, all about balance ! :-)

    all the best


    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 8:09 am

      “Horizontal”…love it! So true…
      Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Peter.


  • Nadine B Hack August 30, 2015, 10:25 am

    Cortney – you’ve consistently helped significant leaders from all sectors improve their lives, as one can see in the testimonies on your website http://www.cortneymcdermott.com/praise/

    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 8:14 am

      Thank you for the giant shoulders, Nadine.
      Your work and life are a constant inspiration.

  • Cláudio August 30, 2015, 11:55 am

    The self-criticism is very important in the lives of us all, be humble is very important to learning. Stop to think in ourselves is very good. We should think about improving ourselves, because we live in a society, and the future depends of us all. I love the truth, the honesty, and I try to be the best for people. But sometimes I feel sad because I see that those who not think in same way, achieve the sucess more easily.
    But I do not care, I am myself.

    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 8:18 am

      Indeed, that’s all we need do — stay true to the self. :)
      Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments, Cláudio.

      Very Best,

  • Jos Moeskops August 30, 2015, 1:32 pm

    Begrip voor uw visie meen ik voldoende te hebben, doch voor mij is het R.K.
    geloof de (aller)beste remedie/het meest effectieve “wapen” bij moeilijkheden!
    P.s. Beoefening van nederigheid is (m.i.) een zeer schoon/goed hulpmiddel…

    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 8:20 am

      Ciao Jos,

      Love it — “The practice of humility is a very clean / good tool …” …think that’s what that means. So right you are!


  • Stephanie Moles-Rota August 30, 2015, 2:44 pm

    Great article! Seems so easy to practice yet so challenging. I often tell leaders, when things get too stressful and you can’t find your way out, pressure from the top, results are under pressure etc. Work less! Take a breather. Instead of 60 hours, work 30 hour for a week and spend some quality time with your loved ones, on the golf course, sailing… doesn’t matter what you do as long as you enjoy it and forget all about the work pressure. The natural tendency everyone has in crisis situation is too work harder and harder until they become tired, moody and stressed out. Funny enough, by taking a step back, you can find back your balance and step out of the vicious circle to put things back into perspective. You will find solutions and be much more effective, not to mention a much better leader and colleague to be with. Easier said than done. 2 minutes meditation and a dancing break will also do the trick, as long as you do it without checking your emails while jumping around. Giving will recharge your emotional strength as equally.

    • Nadine B Hack August 30, 2015, 7:39 pm

      Stephanie – that’s why you’re such a great senior management recruiter & talent manager!

    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 8:31 am

      You are SO right, Stephanie! And, speaking of, sorry for not responding sooner–just back from a 2-wk OFFLINE vacation with the family. :)

      What you said about “easy to practice yet so challenging” touches me, because the answers always are so simple. Thank you for sharing this potent sauce with the leaders whose lives you touch.

      Warm Best,

  • Andrea Learned August 30, 2015, 7:37 pm

    Cortney – I, like you, was a skeptic of meditation (or just thought it’d never work for my racing mind.. so didn’t give it a chance) until I found a way in, in the form of the Dan Harris book – 10% Happier (here’s his TED video on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt5Qv9tUObI )

    It is AMAZING how a practice of even 5 minutes a day can help you tame your thoughts and have a tool for all the challenges that may come your way in a typical day.

    Living with intention and realizing you are just passing through this life (so why not enjoy it and be your best?) are paradigm shifting. Thanks for writing this and helping a lot more people begin to give this some thought.

    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 8:44 am

      Andrea – Right? It is truly ASTOUNDING the clarity and purpose found in the habitual 5 minutes of calming the overactive mind. …Or even just momentarily dismissing yourself from the struggle so you can “find” the solution!

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response and for sharing the Dan Harris link! Can’t wait to check it out…

      All the Best,

  • David Hain August 31, 2015, 10:54 am


    So much sense in this post. Givers always gain. And the world lost a great giver this weekend with the passing of Wayne Dyer. But his legacy will remain, and that’s one thing I find helps me – that what I do is creating karma for me, and leaving something with my family and the people I meet.

    Thanks, it’s an excellent series, andI love the perfectly imperfect concept!

    Warm wishes, David

    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 8:59 am

      Dear David,

      I wept when I read your post. You see, I’m just back from a remote 2 weeks offline, and hadn’t heard of Wayne Dyer’s passing. Our legacies do remain — even while we’re here. Thank you, David.

      With affection & gratitude,


  • Ravi Chaudhry August 31, 2015, 1:27 pm

    Meditate, Dance, Give:
    Thank you Cortney, so simple and yet so life-transforming. Doable and yet not much practiced. I hope your article touches the heart-strings and motivates one and all.

    For those who may still find it difficult, may I add that each of us can renew herself every moment and be re-born, as it were.

    When one does that, Today becomes the first day of the rest of one’s life! And the new life becomes much more that it had ever been before.
    Worth a try.

    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 9:11 am

      Oh, Ravi, I love what you wrote. “Each one of us can renew herself every moment and be re-born.” What a graceful, gentle reminder of the power that resides in each one of us. Definitely worth a try. Meditate. Dance. Give. Trans-form. :)

      With admiration,

  • Barbara Brooks Kimmel August 31, 2015, 1:56 pm

    Thank you Courtney for these gentle reminders that came at a perfect time. While I’m not much of a dancer, walking works for me! Andrea, than you for the Dan Harris video link. It was interesting and entertaining.

    • Cortney September 5, 2015, 9:49 am

      Thank you, Barbara. Also for the reminder that while the destination is the same, routes will differ. :)
      As Ram Dass (aka Harvard Prof. Richard Alpert) put it, “Each pilgrim on the path has to find his own way. However, all paths lead to the same place. And, therefore, by hearing of other people’s journeys, you can get clear as to where it is you’re going, and you can get some of the dynamics of method, comparatively perhaps.”

      Here’s to walking, dancing, laughing, and loving!


  • Sherry Roth September 8, 2015, 5:28 pm

    Sometimes the most simple things are hardest to remember and practice. With focus, movement and kindness,
    Dr. Sherry


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