“Aim for perfection & you’ll get somewhere near.”
Such phrases trip off our tongue & find their way into so many everyday conversations: at home; in the office; in our training & target-setting events; in our schools.
However, I am not sure that such words are actually helpful.
Let’s strip them back & ask a few salutary questions:
1. What is the chance of me achieving anything near perfection?
In reality, it is zero. No matter how hard I try, I won’t get there.
2. What is the chance of a sales team achieving anywhere near perfection?
In reality, it is zero. No matter how hard they try, they won’t get there.
3. What is the chance of our children achieving perfection?
In reality it is zero, No matter ho hard they try, they won’t get there.
We are bombarded daily with digitised, sanitised, edited images that take imperfect objects: fruit; people; skin; food; then erase & gloss-over the blemishes, presenting something that actually does not exist.
I was talking to a friend in the advertising industry recently & they shattered my bubble as they explained that the ‘ice-cream’ used in advertising photographs is rarely anywhere near the real thing; it is certainly not edible. Yet such images are ‘important’ in order to convey their product to us as ideal; perfect for our purchase & consumption.
My biggest concern is that we are creating a generation of people who can no longer discern between reality & fiction. One person I know has a Facebook profile which leads the reader to think they are a childcare professional in their mid-twenties. In reality, they are a child of 13-years-old.
Those who can have become sceptical of what is actually real & what is imaginary, fake or a deception.
But perhaps the greatest danger of striving for perfection is that since we can never reach it, we perpetually end-up feeling unfulfilled, inadequate, unlovely & incapable. If we aim for a target we can never hit we will never be satisfied.
Sure, I understand the need for improvement. It is core to everything I do especially in business. We try; we make mistakes; we learn; we apply the lessons we have learnt & hopefully, we improve.
But there is a huge difference between aiming to improve & aiming for perfection.
That difference is we can always improve.
I have experienced the reign of perfectionism in my own life. I strived for it; missed; was rarely satisfied or content & eventually ended up in a position where taking my own life seemed an attractive option. Thankfully, I sought help before I got any further with that idea, but our media & cemeteries contain those those who were not so fortunate.
How we see ourselves is central to how we perform, how well we handle pressure, how well we interact with others & how successful we are in life. I define success as a ‘sense of personal achievement’ rather than financial success.
If we are not careful we create for ourselves & our children a master that demands rigid obedience to a set of rules with which we can never comply, a master who then beats us severely when we fail to achieve the standard set.
That master is ourself.
So, as my counsellor said to me so many times, “Be merciful on yourself!”
Cut yourself some slack. Don’t believe all you see or read or hear.
But DO believe in yourself & know that you are perfect just as you are, warts & all.
And as you improve, you are still perfect as you are.
Life is too short to be weighed-down by the crap & false standards that others try to put on us (& the crap we successfully pile on ourselves if we’re not careful). This week I was reminded of that fact as we laid my brother’s ashes to rest. During the service we took some time to remember Graham & what came across so clearly was, despite his genius AND his imperfections & failings, he was content with who he was. He knew his short-comings better than anyone but he didn’t let them hold him back & he didn’t let what others thought of him or what others tried to tell him he should be stop him from doing what he was passionate about. He had a grasp of reality & knew who he was.
I sincerely pray that you will be able to experience the same liberation by realising that, despite any imperfections, you are lovely just as you are.
As my brother often quoted to me, ” Stuart! Nil carborundum illigitimis!”
Take care until next time …