Saturday, 30 March 2013

To seek perfection is to be a prisoner of your own judgement

By: James Kyle


"To seek perfection is to be a prisoner of your own judgement".

Recently I have been looking at many self development sites looking for posts worth sharing with you and in addition have come across many self help quotes, but when I came across the statement above, this really stood out to me as words of wisdom.

Much of the harm we inflict upon ourselves is in the form of self judgement – a self judgement that can cripple our lives. And perfectionism can add to that burden.

As with many ineffective life patterns the chances are this goes back to childhood. Parents in an attempt to encourage their children might reward success in a way that is ingrained in a child as a desire to please, by not falling short of expectations. In some of us in later life this can take the form of a self limiting need to achieve perfection in every action we take.

As I write these words I note with a certain amount of self irony that these forces are in play inside myself at the moment. A desire to communicate this to you precisely and perfectly so you fully understand how this really could be a limiting aspect of your life.

It can be limiting in several ways. Perfectionism can lead to procrastination. We don’t want to start an activity because we fear we will not complete it to our own high standards. Or maybe we do start, but leave a task unfinished – the day of judgment thus being delayed.

Or simply, we just constantly beat ourselves up for not being good enough – not living up to our very own personal high standards.

Have you noticed how hard we can be on ourselves at times? We in fact talk to ourselves in a way that we would not dream of doing to someone else. And perfectionism can significantly contribute to this pattern.

But, aiming for perfection is something admirable I hear you protest. Really? Think about it this way, when an engineer is specifying the details of the manufacture of a component he or she will specify acceptable tolerances. A component made to these tolerances will work. Any effort of the part of the mechanic making the part to be precise to a degree more precise than these tolerances is wasted effort. And this is a good metaphor for how to approach life.

So I leave you with this thought, and I encourage you to shift your mental map to this alternative way of thinking: “Excellence not perfection”.



P.S. So what do you think? - have I perfectly expressed what I needed to say?