It’s not my job to be perfect

I love that I’m learning as I craft for this space, and that I get to share what I’m thinking about with you as I move into 2019. I’m here to find my voice, to commit to a rhythm of creating and putting work into the world, and to help others who may be thinking about similar things. I think my motivations will shift as I mature and grow in this practice, as they should. I know I will change my mind. That’s part of what learning is.

One of the things I’m trying to get my head around is that it’s not my job to be perfect – here or in any part of my life. I didn’t realise that I had that kind of pressure on myself until I needed to get over it in order to do the altMBA. The pursuit of perfection, it turns out, is absolutely paralysing. Anne Lamott calls perfectionism, “the voice of the oppressor”. It turns insightful, empathetic, articulate artists into quivering messes, full of excuses. It very nearly got me. I felt it from the inside as a student, and saw it from the sidelines as a coach.

I still catch myself thinking sometimes that perfection is the standard with which to measure my progress. Others can’t argue with perfect. Except – they can. In any work that is creative, meaningful or risky, work where you don’t know the answer, you just cannot achieve perfection. Aside from the fact that the nature of perfection is subjective, it’s impossible to create a “perfect thing”.

I know now that I cannot keep moving forward and learning and growing if I am obsessed with being perfect.

So instead I’ve developed some other parameters to think about my attitude, my work, my progress and how I treat others. Here are the questions I’ve started asking myself instead of, ‘Is this perfect?’

  • Is this generous?
  • Is this respectful?
  • Is this brave?
  • How loud is the Resistance right now?
  • Am I proud of this? Do I stand behind what I’m saying?
  • Might this change someone?
  • Will this move us forward?
  • What have I learned?

The answers are always far more helpful, insightful and meaningful than the ‘no’ perfection tells me every time.

HT – Seth and the opportunity cost