Ah, perfection. It's a trap, it's a racket, it's our favourite flaw. When asked, famously, in job interviews or personal disclosure sessions, to name a weakness, it's the one we love to claim.
"I'm a perfectionist." We say it with a frown, but secretly gleeful, because we know everybody is after perfection, especially potential employers. Right?
So wrong. (Imperfect, that is).
There is a saying I often quote to clients, especially when they are trying to launch something new.
"Perfection is the enemy of done." It is also the enemy of good.
Not to say your work shouldn't be good. It should. It should also get done. We should strive for getting it good and done. But don't get caught up in making it perfect. It never will be.
Now, I don't mind looking at perfection through the aspirational lens. The desire for perfection is a powerful thing, as long as we don't confuse it with the attainment of perfection. Because that is just plain impossible, and we'd be in a fool's game if we tried to play.
Michelangelo's desire for perfection, for example, birthed the David. A renaissance masterpiece, the sculpture is said to be an attempt by the artist to design the perfect human form. In creating his masterpiece, Michelangelo has also crafted a form impossible for any actual human to occupy. The exacting dimensions he measured and carved in his quest for perfection are beautiful - breathtaking even - and yet impossibly perfect.
Still, scholars argue, the head and hands are too big, the genitalia too small.
Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Each beholder striving for their own version of perfection, balance, and harmony. In striving for perfection, we will create rare beauty, push past our limitations, and aspire to harmony and balance - but they will remain elusive. Life is imperfect. It always will be. So, too, us.
Perfectly imperfect. With feet too big, noses too long, and our sad and tiny genitals.
"Seeking security or protection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we’re going to have an experience we can’t control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we’re going to find out we have cancer, or somebody’s going to spill tomato juice all over our white suit.
The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride. To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh."
As a side note, my team spent a good part of the first quarter of the year designing a near-perfect content plan, including a roll-call of weekly blog topics. The wheels came off in when yours truly entered a period of three trips in five weeks, with little time to write. So this post is more than two weeks late...
Perfect that the topic was Perfection, no?
Where are you caught in the perfection trap? What is that control costing you?