Giving Up on Perfect

Are you a perfectionist? Do you know anyone who is? Let’s talk about the drive to be perfect and what it can cost you.

What is so bad about being good? Nothing at all. But trying to be perfect can cost you a lot in terms of mental health and harmonious relationships. You see, people who can mobilize themselves in the face of tough problems are usually folks who don’t worry about being perfect. They are happy to move ahead with a partial solution, trusting that they will invent the rest as they go along. Obstacles become mere detours on the road to the ultimate goal.

Now, perfectionists will try to tell you that their relentless standards drive them to levels of productivity and excellence that they could not otherwise attain. But often just the opposite is true. Perfectionists usually accomplish less, because they waste so much time paralyzed by fear of failure. They will not start anything until they know how to finish it without any mishaps, and that may be a mistake. While perfectionists seem to have a positive attitude toward whatever they are doing, sometimes it is creative avoidance with a different name.

Even though they don’t know exactly how they are going to do something, high-performance people keep their vision of the end-result uppermost in their minds and forge ahead anyway. They believe that they will get the help they need, find the resources they need, and figure out the how-to’s as they go – and they usually do.

If for some reason, they do not achieve the outcome they wanted, high-performance people don’t waste energy beating themselves up about it. They simply learn from the experience and move on. High-performance people are resilient and persistent, stay on target, and have confidence in their ability to see it through.

For humanity, there has never been the perfect book, perfect movie, perfect piece of music or musical performance, and certainly no perfect life. The best we can hope for is moments of perfection, that quickly vanish from our perception, leaving only the memory. Perhaps it is time to let go of the dream of unattainable perfection. How about we work on and grow toward higher performance, at whatever we decide deserves our focus?