The Perfection Myth debunked
Like many operating assumptions and beliefs in our culture, when we take a deeper look, they may make little sense.
Perfection suggests a state of flawlessness, without any defects. To be perfect implies a condition whereby your action or performance attains a level of excellence that cannot be exceeded.
What is perfect for one is not nearly good enough for another. As we increase our standards and do things better, we realise how imperfect we were when we started, yet we thought we were great at the time.
At school we are taught things are either right or wrong, that implies it is an absolute, yet in real life, there are no absolutes – perfection is a human construct and has no actual basis other than the thoughts that created them.
Perfection is the enemy of progress – Winston Churchill
My guess is, that if someone was ever able to achieve this impossible state of perfection, it’s likely that very few people would tolerate him or her. Why?
- They are unlikely to be any fun.
- They would be ever so predictable.
- The perfect individual would be a constant reminder of our shortcomings.
- The impossibly high standards would wear most of us down.
We know how we feel about someone who thinks they are perfect, can you imagine what it would feel like if they actually were the epitome of perfection?
“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4)
In pursuit of excellence
The search for excellence and pursuit of an ideal is similar, yet different from striving for perfection.
Try it on and experience it for yourself; Imagine trying to be perfect – feel what you feel, really get into it. Now, try on pursuing an ideal of yours – feel what you feel, really get into it. The difference for me is a hollow feeling in the first instance and a feeling of excitement and anticipation in the latter. What was the difference for you?
Striving for perfection comes from a feeling of lack, of not being good, strong, beautiful, young, thin, wealthy, perfect, … enough. This is a never ending quest, because perfection will always remain out of your reach. [This has to do with being].
However, pursuing an ideal or attempting to do something better means you have increased your standards and you are working towards it. [This has to do with doing and can almost always improve.]
Aspire to greatness
Under no circumstances does it follow that we should become proponents of shoddy workmanship, ok service, bad manners or a lackadaisical attitude because we can’t be perfect, we should always do our best, attempt to improve on that, aspire to greatness.
As humans we love pushing boundaries, it is in our blood to explore, expand, learn, create – unless beaten into submission, forced into a mold, or cowed into blind adherence to rules.
Get used to failing
- No matter how long we have been walking, we sometimes trip and fall.
- No matter how long we have been in business, we sometimes make a mistake.
- No matter how long we have been driving, we sometimes have an accident.
- No matter how often we remember, we sometimes forget.
- No matter how often we fail, we also succeed. The more often we fail, the more likely we are to succeed, especially if we learn something each time we fail… and we do, organically, even if we do not realise it.
Fear, then do! Everybody does the first few times.
Perfection is overrated
Celebrate your uniqueness
Don’t try to be perfect, just be perfectly you.