Letting Go of Perfect

How often do you go for perfect?

When I was a kid, the worst thing I could imagine myself doing was failing at something. My idea of failure, however, was receiving feedback of any kind from anyone about something I had done.

For example, if I completed an assignment in school and the teacher didn’t have anything but glowing comments, I would tell myself that I didn’t do anything right. As a musician, if a performance was anything but perfect, I would feel like I completely bombed. And if you’ve ever performed music, you know that there is no such thing as a perfect performance!

As I grew up, this pattern of orienting “success” around perfection continued and spread into all areas of my life, including relationships. My measure of success in relationship success was the absence of any conflict whatsoever. If conflict arose, which, inevitably it would, I would create stories around blame that were all directed at me. Carrying around so much self-blame became quite heavy!

And then I started to notice something. Other people were making mistakes all the time. They would make mistakes and go on with their lives. In fact, it seemed like they were making more progress in their endeavors than me, and I was the one trying so hard to do everything right.

Trying to prevent ourselves from making mistakes is a great way to get STUCK!

Of course we want to do things well in our lives. It’s natural to want to experience success. And it’s completely human to want to get as close to perfect as possible. Challenging ourselves to do anything to the best of our ability is how we achieve greatness and push past limitations. Notice how we get so excited when we see athletes execute something to perfection or hear a musician nail a solo. Why? Because it’s RARE.

My relationship with perfection was completely unreasonable and unattainable. But after years of focusing on the pursuit of perfection, it wasn’t an overnight switch to allowing imperfection.

Developing a healthy relationship with “failure” was a process for me. It still is. As I have navigated changes in my career, I’ve had to work on my relationship with the concept of failure. This process has involved letting go and allowing. It requires me to develop awareness around how the goal of perfection prevents me from accomplishing my full potential. Trying to do everything “right” keeps me STUCK.

When I began my coaching business a year or so ago, other coaches/consultants were eager to share with me the things they had learned in the process of setting up their businesses. Although I was eager to soak up their knowledge, I also noticed myself NOT always following their advice. Something inside said, “remember that this is your process, not theirs.”

Have I made mistakes? You bet! Does that make me feel like a failure? No way!

In this episode of Growing in Uncertainty, I go deeper into how the pursuit of perfection can lead to STUCK and how to develop a healthy relationship with failure.

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