Aiming for Imperfection

Perfectionism is a foul illness.

I’ve been thinking about the severity of its side effects this morning, pondering the long-term results of believing “flawless” is necessary when “good enough” will do.

As someone in the final stages of conquering the tendency, I’m well aware of the gut-wrenching pain it creates.

The thing is, I think it often arises out of the depth of our conviction. I think, overtaken by the power of our emotion, we wish to ensure our creation is a painstakingly accurate representation of the ideal we have in our head, an immaculate reflection of our cherished belief.

In focusing our intent on producing something unequaled, we either fritter away hours consumed by miniscule details or–fearing our abilities are inadequate for the task–quietly ignore the impulse to create.

We easily forget the price of success is paid by hours of unfruitful labor.

Albert Einstein finalized general relativity about sixteen years after he developed special relativity…and only after he learned his calculations were being refined by a more industrious mathematician.

Thomas Edison found thousands of ways not to invent a light bulb, demonstrating the “decision and revision” process (combined with a healthy will to keep going) required to achieve goals.

Living is more like golf than archery.

Instead of being scored based on the number of bullseyes you hit, you’re doing your best to finish the hole with as few shots as possible. It’s a series of attempts at a target, then heading off for the next one after the first is reached.

As you improve, getting “there” takes less effort.

What’s most important is training your eye on an object worth the effort because, as Henry David Thoreau wrote,

In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.”


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