Creating a Culture of Care: The Beautiful Mess Effect

Creating a Culture of Care: The Beautiful Mess Effect

*Three Minute Read (Para leer en español, haga clic aquí)

I love mowing the grass!  My yard takes about 90-minutes start to finish and it’s a time during my day when I can just zone out. I typically put on a podcast, get lost in my thoughts, and enjoy the time outdoors.

I love the way my yard looks after I’m finished too.  Rather than always mowing straight lines up and down or across, every once in a while I even throw in a diagonal pattern to give it a little flair.

In the end, the clean, crisp lines make me so happy. I feel happy and proud when I pull up in my driveway to my well cared for yard and home. If I’m being honest, a cared for yard and home helps me present myself to the outside world as clean, neat, and on my A game, too.

My grass can grow so quickly this time of year that it needs to be mowed twice a week to keep it manageable.  The grass simply gets so long that if I wait to mow it only on the weekends, it clogs up my mower and can dull the blade.

So, this is when I enlist my kids.  They devised a system of my oldest, Will, mowing the backyard (the largest area), while Charlie (my youngest) mows the largest part of the front yard, and Emily (the middle child) mows the smaller side yard and picks up dog poop.  Sounds fair, right?

But life got in the way this week and Emily wasn’t able to mow her section.  As a result, the last few days I’ve had a very lopsided looking yard with 2/3’s of it mowed and 1/3 of it long and scraggly. The first day or two it bothered me each time I pulled up to my house. I felt frustrated and anxious when I noticed the imbalance. But then I remembered the Beautiful Mess Effect.

The Beautiful Mess Effect says people like vulnerability. It says we often have a disconnect between our perception of how people see our vulnerabilities and how they are perceived.

A research study on the Beautiful Mess Effect had people share difficult situations with others, like admitting mistakes or professing romantic feelings to someone. The study asked participants how it felt to both share the struggles and be the one hearing the struggles. What they found was, “Even when such examples of showing vulnerability might sometimes feel more like weakness from the inside, our findings indicate that, to others, these acts might look more like courage from the outside.”

Messy is beautiful. Messy is honest and vulnerable and actually draws and attracts others to us much more than perfection, or what we may try to present as perfection. Sharing our messes creates trust. It’s like an invitation to see who someone really is and to share your truth in exchange.

In the overall, big picture, an uneven yard is the least of my vulnerabilities and insecurities (and trust me, I have plenty). But reminding myself that even something as small as an uneven yard (and the vulnerability I might feel as a result) can provide connection to others felt needed this week.

People relate to the mess. The mess makes us approachable and real. Our mess is what makes us us

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 Stevie Cromer is the Cultural and Enrichment Manager for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at