Have you ever considered yourself a perfectionist or tried to be more of one? Let’s explore a topic that has touched most of us directly and/or indirectly in our lives: Perfection. The word may be weighted for you, and I’m going to guess it is not linked with comfort or confidence, and perhaps even with insecurity or shame. Good news though; I’m going to propose the idea that not only is perfection unattainable, it isn’t as desirable as greatness anyway. Let’s have a look at four examples of this wild claim.
- Authenticity. The quest for perfection (of a specific kind) often rejects the most valuable piece of your contribution: the ‘you’ness of the offering. That’s right. I’m talking about your authentic, unique perspective. Nobody says it like you do. Nobody plays it like you do. Nobody sings it like you do. Nobody shares it quite like you do! If you have a preconceived notion of how to make your art, book, business plan, pitch or workshop perfect, you may be forgetting to infuse it with your own unique greatness that you may not see as perfect, but it is actually even better. It is something no one has ever experienced before.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you.” Dr. Seuss.
How do you infuse each of your offerings with your unique greatness?
- Productivity. The quest for perfection breeds stagnancy and stifles flow. There tends to be a whole lot of second-guessing at play in this quest; Self-doubt, imposter syndrome*, and more. Let’s be honest, these fears can send us into a state of chronic procrastination, then not only is the work not perfect, it isn’t even done. When we let ourselves explore our own unique angles in our work and art, our greatness reveals itself with more grace and ease.
- Effectiveness. Our idea of perfection can be less effective on a human level. A level in which we all abide. Let’s take music as an example: What is more effective in a live musical performance– A performer carefully playing every note right (perfect) or a performer that plays amazingly and infuses passion and feeling into the song (great)? Most would agree that great is not only enough… great is better.
‘Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.’
(from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’)
Are you ‘playing’ the music of your life with feeling, or have you fallen prey to the perfection trap?
- Enjoyment. Approaching a project or goal with overly rigid parameters can quite simply suck the fun out of it. Perfectionism is rarely enjoyable as it is so commonly accompanied by pressure, stress and negative self-talk (ie. “I’ll never get it right.”). Try shooting for greatness instead, and watch your enjoyment of the process expand. Have fun with it!
How can you let go of the notion of perfection and allow great to be enough for you today and every day?
How can you apply the ‘Great is Enough’ philosophy to your approach to Fitness and Wellness?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
*Imposter syndrome is a term coined in the 1970s by psychologists and researchers to informally describe people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.