Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
~Henry van Dyke
I stopped by Danielle LaPorte’s blog “White Hot Truth + other sermons on life.” I ended up watching a video post she had done and a small section of it really resonated with me. She brought to attention that every master-piece that has ever been done could have been done better. It really struck a chord with me personally and is the motivation behind this post.
From Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to the Sistine Chapel, John Lennon’s “Imagine,” to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s going on.”
Some would call these perfect while others would disagree. That’s the point. There’s no such thing as perfect. If there were we would all be able to agree upon it. The idea of perfection is in the eye of the beholder. You get to define perfection on you own terms.
- The “Perfect body.”
- The “Perfect kiss.”
- The “Perfect job.”
- The “Perfect life.”
Stop looking to others for their approval or the definition of perfection. Take action, start creating, do shit you’re proud of and try your best to improve on it. Not striving for perfection but striving instead for growth and development. Wether it is one step back, two steps forward, a shimmy and shake to the side; it is all relative. Keep learning and enjoy the journey. Enough rant… lets dive in!
PERFECTION WEARS A MASK
Perfectionism is something I have always strived for and thought of as a noble cause. I use to live on the theory that if something can not be done right then it is not worth doing at all.
[it should be noted that I took a 2 hour break right here. I got writers block and realized I was trying to make this post too perfect. The irony…]
I’ve since changed my tune… for the most part. See above.
Often times when striving for perfection we hand-cuff ourselves and never get started. Action ceases to exist and our goals, ambitions, projects, and dreams get put on the back burner. Instead of enjoying the excitement of the process we dwell on the prospects of being let down by results not being perfect.
We sit back and analyze every piece of information and detail. Convince ourselves that we do not have enough skill, know-how, or resources to do a good job. Learn the skills on the fly, the know-how will come once you start; you will adapt…. trust me. The only resources you need are the commitment to get started and to simply TRY.
Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. What is beautiful to one may not be so to the other. If John Lennon were alive today and you asked him if “Imagine” was the perfect song he would say no. Some feel that it is. If you try to please everyone you will end up pleasing no-one, including yourself.
Be proud of getting started. Taking action. That in itself is the real perfection.
Jane Burka and Lenora Yuen the authors of “The Procrastinators Code: Why you do it, and what to do about it” break it down for us pretty spot on. We often paralyze ourselves with so many doubts and questions that we never actually get started or end up spinning our wheels for so long that we never get finished.
- I must be perfect.
- It’s safer to do nothing than to take a risk and fail.
- I should have no limitations.
- If it’s not done right than it’s not worth doing at all (guilty as charged).
- There is a right answer, and I’ll wait until I figure it out.
I for one am guilty of asking myself these same questions. I use to hold myself to such a high standard that I actual never got anything accomplished. I was to wrapped up in doing things perfectly that I ended up not doing anything at all. I then realized that I have never met a single person that I believed was perfect. We in some shape or form have imperfections. MANY of them.
I curse, pick my nose from time to time (hmm…to much info), leave the toilet seat up, write shitty posts on this blog, forget appointments, cook terrible meals, miss a workout, stray from my nutrition, lie or fib occasionally :D, I suck at surfing, dancing, and basketball. The list goes on and on and I am sure you are thinking about a few ways you F-UP right now.
Show me someone who is perfect and I will show you someone who isn’t taking risks. Don’t except imperfections and failures but learn from them. Take them with a grain of salt (whoa…major cliche) and see how you can improve next go round.
Don’t let the fear of not being able to do something perfect keep you from trying. So you suck at dancing. Screw it! Go try. You want to start your own business but don’t think you have the qualifications or knowledge to make it successful. Screw it! Just get started. You’ll learn on the fly.
Go back and read some of my earlier posts. They suck! But I just got started. Asked for real world feedback and made improvements. Now they only mildly suck but we are making progress.
We can avoid certain mistakes but we can’t avoid making mistakes at all. If you want to be perfect then sit perfectly still……… because that is the only perfection I have ever come across. Now tell me where that is going to get you?
DON’T STRIVE FOR PERFECTION. STRIVE FOR OPTIMALISM
Think about our 80/20 post.
Striving for optimalism would be focusing on the 20% of out life that matters to us most and putting our energy in to getting the most out of those areas that we can. The other 80% is secondary and can be addressed when necessary.
So now decide. What in your life represents the 20% that is most important to you. I would call these your virtues. Don’t over think this. You are free to change your mind at anytime.
Is your health, family, travel, work you are passionate about, freedom, learning a new language part of that 20%?
Decide. Make a decision now. That 20% is where your efforts should lay and your focus should be on achieving optimal results. Not perfect results. But optimal. Ones that you are proud of, that are rewarding to yourself and to others. That have long-lasting impact.
Set realistic goals in these areas and appreciate the success that you achieve. Reward yourself for making an effort and taking the risk of getting started.
PRACTICE IT! By that I mean practice getting started. Over the course of the next month try something new each week. Regardless of whether or not you have the skills, confidence, or know-how. Get comfortable with just trying! You might very well suck at it and fail. Learn from it and apply it to the next challenge you come across.
BE DRIVEN BY THE DESIRE TO DO YOUR BEST
Let the desire to do your best be your guiding light. Striving for perfection is telling yourself that what you are doing is not good enough. That is the wrong motivating force behind success. Be motivated my knowing you are trying your best and giving it everything you have.
If you do that then your end results will be perfect. It has to be. You gave it your all.
Derek Sivers recently did a book review for Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orlan. In his review he noted the following study.
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work-and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
I’m sure there will be many that argue that if you are not striving for perfection then what are you trying for. This is my response.
You keep striving for perfection. I’ll keep turning out work after work and experience after experience. And with each one will be better than the last. I’ll learn by doing.
Once you finish let me know how perfection is going for you… my guess is that it never gets done.
What are your thoughts on striving for perfection? It’s ok to disagree and fight me here. Brothers and sisters fight all the time!
Lots of love,