The Perfection Trap

– Posted in: Saboteur, What's Your Piece?

The Perfect Human?

I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no such thing as a “perfect human.” In fact “perfection”, by any typical definition, is a myth. If personal perfection means to be “flawless” then the entire world would have to perceive you as such.

But if you’re dead-set on “flawlessness”, here are a few things to avoid…

  • If I’m catching you early enough, never learn to walk: you may “fall down”, which is imperfect walking.
  • Never speak, because you may say something offensive. Or maybe it’s always to speak so as not to ignore someone, but then you risk being offensive.
  • Never attempt anything new, because you could get it “wrong”. But then if you always do the same old thing, you might seem boring… so no hope there.
  • Certainly you can’t dream, because your dream might not be approved of by someone, so no dreaming.
  • And while you’re at it, you may have to go naked because someone might disapprove of your clothing, but then maybe your body is “imperfect” so you’ll need to cover that up in order not to offend, which leads you back to that less than “fashionista” wardrobe of yours…
  • Maybe you just shouldn’t leave the house… but then people would think you were weird if you never went out so that’s no good.

(Surely, this is a Saboteur’s trap.)
What must you sacrifice to be flawless to the world? Everything.

Perfection is a trap.

It’s an unattainable land which you can never reach because, by definition, you’re never “good enough.” Hell, even the things you do really well are never perfect so you can’t even enjoy those!

When you strive for “perfection,” you lose yourself; those very things that make you unique, and valuable. You can never excise enough of what makes you interesting to become entirely “flawless” in the eyes of the entire world.

What must you sacrifice to be flawless to the world? Everything.

We need a whole new definition of “perfection”. True perfection is you being precisely who you are: authentically kooky & creative, conservative & inventive, perhaps conservatively quirky? Maybe even downright “odd”? Perfect is you being “you.”

Rather than “flawlessness”, put your heart into everything that matters to you; get some of it the way you intended and get some of it a different way. Notice I didn’t say “right” or “wrong”? “The way you intended” and “a different way” are two alternate perspectives that leave room for learning and inventing, instead of self-judgement and recriminations… For so many people, “getting it wrong” is a personal value judgement; as though they become the “failure” rather than the unintended outcome being different than expected. When did “different” or “unexpected” become “wrong” anyway?

“Perfection as flawlessness” is a sure way to stay exactly where you are.

Consider the pacemaker; it was “invented” by Mr. Greatbatch, when he made a “mistake” and soldered the “wrong” resistor into his intended device for measuring the electrical activity of the heart and it gave off a rhythmic pulse instead. There are countless examples of people intending to create one thing, while accidentally inventing another: microwave ovens, velcro, corn flakes, viagra, penicillin, fireworks(!), the glass on your iPhone… If these brilliant innovators had condemed the unexpected outcome of their endeavors in favor of their original intention, we wouldn’t have any of these useful things today.

“Perfection as flawlessness” is a sure way to stay exactly where you are. The only “perfection” you need is in learning what glorious, unique gifts you offer the world. They are likely hiding behind those things that scare the crap out of you… that’s where I’m headed.

Always infinite possibilities… always your choice.

Credits:
Music (in pod cast)
: “Follow Your Bliss” ©Copyright 1989 by The B-52’sArt:The Vitruvian Man” by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487

3 Comments… add one
Koresun March 24, 2012, 7:44 am

I figured out a long time ago (high school) that I would never be perfect. I realized that the very attempt to reach perfection paralyzed me. I procrastinated because I felt I had to be perfect, which created a conflict because I knew I couldn’t BE perfect. I was just stopped dead in my tracks. Finally, I decided that I would aim for “good enough.” (Even now that doesn’t sound quite ambitious enough…)  Giving up the quest for perfection wasn’t easy, but it was easier than going nuts trying for the impossible.

TrinityAvatar April 2, 2012, 6:01 pm

Thanks for the comment Kore… “Good enough”… what does “good enough” look like? How will you know? What would it be like to strive for your most authentic self?

Koresun April 2, 2012, 9:01 pm

For me, “good enough” has been achieving a balance between the emotional part of me which used to drive me to attempt perfection, and the rational part of my brain which said that–while it’s important to do a good job–nothing we do in this life will be perfect. When I do the best I can, conscientiously, I detach and accept whatever it is as “finished.”

Once I came to an understanding (in my 20s) that I was trying to please everyone but me, I did a lot of work on myself. It took years, but I feel that I have achieved what I set out to achieve…authenticity.

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