“Perfection is the enemy of success”
“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”
“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; Perfection is God’s business”
“When you strive for perfection, you shoot yourself in the foot right from the start. You’ve given yourself a goal that’s unreachable…Perfection holds you back from reaching your true potential.”
“Some of us (perfectionists, especially) fuss so much over making the ‘right’ choice, but in life, all that’s really needed is to make any’ good’ choice, believe in it, go through with it, and accept the consequences.”
-Perfection quotes by various persons
As most of you know, I started a blog over a month ago. The blog is about “how to start life over.”
For too long I have known what I should to do to make more money, have better relationships and even look and feel energetic and healthy. Notice I said “should”. As Tony Robbins says, “I should all over myself”. Boy, did I ever.
Consequently my life felt like a mess. I lost the big house on the water, the multimillion dollar company. My clothes didn’t fit, I was so out of shape. I ate like crap and drank too much. Even though I had an intellectual understanding of what I needed to be doing to pull out of this massive tailspin, I was immobilized.
Why? I think it had a lot to do with my obsession with perfection. Or at least my misconception that perfection was actually attainable. I must confess at first that type A personality served me. I was a top sales guy everywhere I went. I could take ideas and turn them into reality with a lot hard work. I fed off of the naysayers. My obsession with perfection provided the fuel i needed when the odds seemed stacked against me.
But eventually, like a superpower with a horrible side effect, the gift became the curse.
It reached the point I was making more money than 99% of the US population. Yet I was not fulfilled. I sure as hell wasn’t stopping to smell the roses. On paper i had it all but was pretty miserable. I sure wasn’t as appreciative as I should have been. I had an attitude of expectation. Have you ever felt this way?
This led to a drawn out but spectacular fall from grace.
One day I said,”That’s it. NO more.”
After finally feeling like I HAD to change, I MUST change and I WILL change I had one big obstacle to overcome and it resided between my ears. It was the idea that things had to be perfect to start.
I rationalized that I couldn’t start hitting the gym until i got back from vacation. Cant start the diet until I eat the junk food I already purchased. Why start a new business when it might be the wrong time or place?
The story I was telling myself was easy to justify because honestly, how could things or circumstances ever be perfect?
The idea that everything must be perfect before you start something new is a success killer. When the moon and stars align,everything will be perfect. Then I will start. Guess what Copernicus? That day wont come. The beauty of I will start tomorrow, is tomorrow NEVER comes. Its always the next day. The only thing we are guaranteed is NOW. Today.
Waiting for perfection leads to procrastination. That is a guarantee.
“You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going,” says success coach Mike Litman.
He says it all the time. He is also right.
Perfection IS the lowest standard of all.
Since I started my blog i have tracked all my workouts. I methodically write down every calorie, carb and gram of protein. I stayed away from eating out. Early morning runs and yoga. I focused on my relationships with an eagles eye. I turned my focus on my self and my actions and stopped blaming others. Things were going great for almost a month and then I went back home on vacation.
To be fair I still worked out a few times, ate relatively good and reconnected with some really good friends.
To be fair I also deviated from my plan outlined in my blog.
Guess What? My first day back my girlfriend and I popped in the P90x DVD. I started journaling and tracking all my calories. I pretty much picked up where i left off.
But I felt guilty. I hadn’t stuck to my diet. I missed workouts. For a bit I really felt guilty. I had let everyone down. I wasn’t perfect.
But you know what? That is OK. I had a mini vacation and could have just said, “Ahhh to heck with it. I didn’t make it. I didn’t follow through” Then I had an easy out to quit. I could just go back to the old way. You know the old way, the way that didn’t work.
Life isn’t about bowling a 300 or hitting a hole in one. It’s about giving your best. It’s not about how many times you fall down, but rather how many times you get back up. Once I stopped thinking I had to be perfect it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. It’s OK to have a cheat day. I gave myself permission to be human.
Perfection is the LOWEST standard because unless you name is Jesus Christ, it ain’t gonna happen. Sorry Charlie. You are setting yourself up for failure. Why not rig the rules to the game of life so you can win? Why not give yourself a break every now and again.
Please do not confuse this an excuse to lower your standards. Do not think i am saying abandon your goals to be an outstanding husband/wife/son/brother/employee/boss/neighbor/teammate/accountant, etc. Raise your standards. Choose great role models and mentors. Use a proven set of strategies or principals to achieve your goals. By all means shoot for the stars!! Never let anyone tell you you can’t do something. BE OUTSTANDING!
But if you don’t score a 1600 on you SAT’s don’t go crying in your cornflakes.
Do not think you need to be perfect. It’s the lowest possible standard because It’s not humanly possible. It also gives you an easy out to quit and fuels permanent procrastination.
Michael Jordan was arguably the greatest basketball player we have ever seen, but he was hardly perfect.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed,” Michael Jordan.
There is something to be said for someone who continually “shows up”. How much better do you feel after you finish your workout even after your brain furnished you with a myriad of excuses to skip the workout? You feel great don’t you? Even a mediocre workout feels a heck of a lot better than skipping it all together, doesn’t it?
“You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going”
Get off your butt. Make it happen. Be the change you want to see in your life. Ask for help. Maybe get some coaching or a personal trainer. If something doesn’t work, try something else. If that doesn’t work, try something else. Keep trying different things until you find what works.
But for YOUR sake and those around you, give yourself a break if your not perfect.
The law of motion is a powerful force. Objects in motion (like you heading towards your goals) tend to stay in motion. Conversely, your butt planted on the couch will probably stay there and grow roots.
Celebrate if you hit a whole in one! Heck, send me a picture of you standing by the pin with a big ‘ol grin on your face. But don’t bitch and moan every hole because your not playing like Tiger Woods. Speaking of Tiger, seems obvious now even though he was an outstanding golfer, he was clearly far from perfect.
You have the potential for greatness within you. The only person who can take that away is the person you see in the mirror. The story you tell yourself has a powerful effect on your motivation or ability to follow through.
Your standards should be outstanding, but allow yourself to make mistakes. Give yourself a pat on the back. Look yourself in the eyes in your mirror and say, “I love you.” Heck, while your at it why not go ahead and forgive yourself for times in the past that you were less than perfect.
It’s amazingly powerful and you just might even stop expecting those around you to be perfect too.
But that’s a topic for another article.
Here’s to your success!