Thou Shalt Not Be Perfect
You’ve heard me say it many times: “Perfection is never the goal.” It's not something that you can arrive at. Perfection is something that's going to help you to procrastinate. A lot of times, that's exactly what it is. It's a strategy that you run so that you don't do anything.
What I'd love you to do is look at areas in your life where perfection is the goal and challenge that. Have a look at any area in your life where you think you have already arrived, and there's no room for growth, and challenge that as well. Because perfection is not something that we can arrive at.
Where are you trying to be perfect in your life? Is it in your relationships? Is it in the work that you do? Challenge that and be okay with being imperfect. Because out of imperfection comes growth, comes learning, comes all the things that we've been talking about.
Are you a perfectionist? Are you constantly putting things off until you get all the ducks in a row?
This week, I want to help you understand that “Thou Shalt Not Be Perfect.”
You’ve repeatedly heard me say: “Perfection is never the goal.” It's not something that you can arrive at. Perfection is something that's going to help you to procrastinate. A lot of times, that's exactly what it is. It's a strategy you run, so you don't do anything.
“Well, if I can't get it perfect, then what's the use of even trying.”
So let's talk about what you can do differently. Let's remove those thoughts of perfection and get rid of them as being something that's even possible, and look at what to do instead. For me, my life is all about incremental improvement. So this is something I want to achieve. This is where I am right now. The gap in between is the journey of learning. So instead of looking at that gap and going: “Wow, there's a big gap between those two,” ask yourself:
“What's the next step?”
“What's something that I could believe and do that would take me one step closer to where I want to go?”
In the work that I do with Social and Emotional Intelligence, I use an assessment to help people to have a look at their current reality where they are in terms of the 26 competencies that I measure, coach, and train in. And it's all about giving them strategies within those competencies to go one point closer to the goal. In that way, we're able to build new skills and new mindsets, rewire the brain, get the reward circuits going, all the things we've talked about so that it is achievable rather than having a mindset of: “Wow, that's a long way down there. I'm not going to do that.”
Also, a lot of times when I'm doing that, people will self-assess that they are perfect, as in “no room for improvement in some of the competencies.” And I challenge them on that because one of them is Integrity. It often happens where people go: “You either have integrity, or you don't.” And I always ask them, “Do you ever do things out of obligation for others at the detriment of your priorities?” And they go: “Yes.” And I ask: “Would it be right for me to think then that at that moment, you were out of integrity with yourself?” And they get it, and they go: “Yes.”
So what I'd love you to do is look at areas in your life where perfection is the goal and challenge that. Look at any area in your life where you think you have already arrived, and there's no room for growth, and challenge that as well. Because perfection is not something that we can arrive at.
I describe my journey as one of imperfection, and I strive for imperfection every single day. Because when I am looking at the best that I can do and giving off my best and see where that takes me, it puts me in a state. That means I will get more of what I need to get done.
Instead of being anxious around, “am I going to get there?” “Is it going to be perfect?” “Is it going be good enough?” I know you know this because we've talked about this many times. But perfection is a strategy so that you make sure that you are not operating in that fear of not being good enough and the fear of not belonging.
So if I get it perfect, people will like me. So any strategies you run—internal strategies — feeding fear will always come out as unhealthy behaviours. So perfection is not something to look for. If you are a self-proclaimed perfectionist, then that's step one. What you're doing by saying: “I'm a perfectionist” is you are saying that’s your identity. All I can give is perfectionism.
So shift that and change the dialogue to something like: “I am learning and growing every day.”
Changing the mindset is the first step. Changing the behaviour comes after that.
So, where are you trying to be perfect in your life? Is it in your relationships? Is it in the work that you do? Challenge that and be okay with being imperfect. Because out of imperfection comes growth, learning, and all the things we've been talking about.
Well, that's it for me for another week. Join me again next week when we continue this conversation around the “Ten Commandments For Enjoying Your Life.”
I'll see you then.