This one glorified personality trait, this self-proclaimed title, this WOLF in sheep’s clothing is holding you hostage from being, doing, and having everything you’re meant to be, do, and have!
I struggled with perfectionism for too long…I’ve battled the demons of perfectionism for far too…I’ve walked through the endless fire of…Sorry! Just me trying to find the perfect opening. Sigh.
I finally got tired of perfectionism kicking my ass. Although I’m not perfect (eh hem) at it now, when I started refusing to let it stop me from putting myself out there and my work, I not only became more productive professionally, but so much happier personally.
We praise perfectionism in our society.
You know the drill. You go to a job interview. They ask what your weaknesses are. You feign a disappointed look on your face and politely say,
“Well, I must admit…I’m quite the perfectionist.”
Or you pay a friend a compliment, or reassure them that everything’s alright. Instead of saying “I know, it’s just my insecurity”, they say “I know, it’s just my perfectionism.”
We have literally glorified and romanticized the phrase “I’m not good enough.” If I drink a bottle of wine every night instead of a six pack of beer, it might make me feel classier, but it also makes me an alcoholic.
Elizabeth Gilbert has an incredible book that I wish everyone would read, even if you don’t consider yourself an artist. It’s called ‘Big Magic’.
She talks about perfectionism and one simple quote changed my life and shifted my perspective about myself and my work.
She said, “Done is better than good.”
That’s it. Reading that simple truth, I immediately thought about how much further along I’d have been had I just put myself and my work out there.
I was waiting to be discovered while saying, “Nothing to see here!”
And I get it. It’s really hard to finish something when you think it needs to be perfect. Because if you don’t finish it, it may never be perfect, but it will also never be imperfect.
It won’t be anything at all.
If you don’t finish something, you never have to share it. And if you never share it, you never open yourself up to criticism.
But, you also close yourself off from connection.
“There is only one way to avoid criticism. Do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.”
I wish I would have said that first, but Aristotle did. At least, he was the first to write it down. Or sign off on it.
Anyway, I remind myself of that quote anytime I face the fear of failure, judgment, or criticism. You can play it safe and small your whole life, and try to do everything right, but people will still find fault in you.
So you might as well just do you!
Besides, I believe that critics are cowards.
If they know so much about what I’m doing, then why aren’t they out here doing it themselves? When you’re in the game, you’re not concerned with the commentary coming from the sidelines. That’s for the fans and the observers.
Players don’t take advice from people sitting on the bench.
I’m not saying to stop learning. Feedback is great, but consider your sources! Before you go asking someone’s opinion about your million-dollar idea, ask yourself “Are they a millionaire?” It’s crazy how much we let people’s opinions hold weight just because they’re our family and friends, and not because they’re the least bit qualified.
Those people don’t mean to discourage you. I’m sure they mean well, and just want to keep you safe, but keep in mind that most people have a very limited, fear-based mindset and they can’t see your vision.
That’s why it’s called YOUR vision.
Have you stopped doing something you love just because it wouldn’t turn out perfectly, or even turn out good?
The happiest times of my life have been spent doing something I enjoyed doing, without wondering or concerning myself about being good at it. And every time I’ve put so much pressure on myself to do something “perfectly”, it’s robbed me of the amount of joy I could’ve had from just doing it.
I’m not saying I don’t enjoy doing things I’m really good at. I’m saying I got really good at doing things I enjoyed doing, because when I enjoy doing something, I spend more time doing it.
Everyone who ever made it big, made it there imperfectly.
And everyone who stayed small, stayed there imperfectly.
So ask yourself “What does perfection have to do with any of it?”
Letting go of perfectionism doesn’t mean letting go of excellency. It doesn’t excuse you from giving it your best. It means letting go of the lie. The lie that says if you’re not perfect, then you’re not lovable, you’re not enjoyable, you’re not acceptable to be seen or heard.
It’s accepting that if you don’t start small, you may never start at all. And if you don’t start at all, then you’ll just stay small.
We’ve all been told that there is no such thing as an overnight success story, but all we see is the overnight success! We discover successful people when it’s too late. When they’ve already made it to the top of the mountain.They’re easy to see when they’re up there, higher than everyone else. The height of their success is awesome and inspiring, but those aren’t success stories. Those are success results! We’re not given the whole story about how they got there, how many times they fell, how many times they got back up, and how many times they got lost and had to find their way back on the right path.
It makes us believe that we should be showing up like that right out of the gate! “Well, So and So was from a farm in Nebraska, and now they’re the American Idol!” Or “They were sleeping in their car, and now they’re a millionaire. “
Well, that’s great that they’ve come so far, but without knowing how they got from Point A to Point Where You Want to B (wink, wink), we assume they’re just magical unicorns that were born that talented, or got lucky, came from privilege, or they were just destined!
As inspiring as it is to see people who have reached the top of the mountain, there’s nothing more inspiring than watching the climb.
Instead of breaking your neck to look up to people all the time, try looking at people eye to eye, who are on the come up, just like YOU – meeting you exactly where you are.
How much work and dedication are they putting into their progress?
You see, that’s the beauty of Youtube and social media. Not only is information more available and more affordable than any other time in history, but there are so many people putting their journeys out there for you to follow, connect with, and learn from.
Find someone you admire and go back and look at their first videos ,and compare that to where they are now! You’ll see that they didn’t have all the answers, the fancy equipment, and all the bells and whistles when they started!
Go watch the pilot episode of your favorite television show and compare it to the quality of the last season, or even the second season when they got picked back up and were given a little money!
Look, the one thing we know that all of these successful people had in common was that they started and they started somewhere.
They might have been further along, or started further away from the prize. The road might have been bumpier for some, and easier for others, but they were all on the road.
There might not be one way to the top, but to get to it, you for sure, at least, have to be on the mountain.
And you know, maybe you never make it to the top. Maybe you find that the view wherever you are is just right for you ,in your special nook of the mountain, and you find fullfillment and joy in helping those along the way, who cross your path.
I’ve learned that the best teachers aren’t necessarily the ones on top. The ones you think are so perfect, and know everything. Because you have no idea where the ones on top started from to begin with. Maybe they were airlifted to the middle of the mountain, and you need help navigating the bottom territory!
The best teachers are the ones who’ve not only been where you’re coming from, but are just ahead of you on the path.
Why? Because one, you know that they have been there. And two, their experience is still fresh in their minds, and still relevant.
The path to success looks very different today than it did 10 or 20 years ago. It might still be the same mountain, but the hiking gear has certainly advanced.
So, if you’re thinking you can only be an inspiration when you’re one of the Greats, when you’re on top, when you’ve reached perfection, DON’T BUY THE LIE!
True inspiration is when someone sees someone doing something and thinks, “Maybe I can do that too.”
As inspiring as it is to witness other people’s growth, YOU become the inspiration when you allow others to witness yours. That is truly living an abundant life!
When you show up as who you really are, and where you really are on your journey, you invite others to do the same.
The truth is that progress is happiness now. Perfectionism is happiness never.
Thank you for visiting Soul Hugger