The perfect golf swing. The perfect blog inspiration. The perfect puppy.
The motivational stuff tells us to strive for perfection. We might not reach perfection, but at least we get further, right?
But what about the frustration devouring you from the inside?
How do you silence the inner beast that horsewhips you to be exceptional…or else?
A magical place exists where perfectionism and peace live harmoniously.
Ready to follow the yellow brick road?
Test 1: Waiting on the wizard
Many of us wait for the perfect situation. But waiting is the most insidious form of perfectionism. Indecision paralyzes us from taking action.
Theodore Roosevelt said:
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
We never take that leap of faith when waiting for something better to happen. You might wait your entire life, and get bitter you never got ‘a break’.
Instead, make a decision. Try something. Anything.
You’ll learn more from the wrong decision than from waiting for the sublime moment. So pick a puppy, settle on a golf coach, write a bunch of garbage even when you don’t feel inspired.
Now you’ve met the wizard.
But he won’t make your life perfect. He wants you to kill the wicked witch before he’ll help you.
You realize it’s action that gets you past the first test, don’t you?
Test 2: Searching for perfect
Once, you’ve started, what’s next?
Searching for perfect? Trying to make “it” happen?
But then you feel it’s never good enough?
The puppy’s temperament isn’t good enough. The golf coach isn’t attentive enough. The crap we write isn’t worthy of covering the floor of the puppy pen.
Our bullying, analytical, left brain kicks sand at the creative right brain that has become small and wimpy from lack of use. We are so up in our own heads we are never in the moment. We get pissed off with our lack of progress and screw up even more.
Take a breath. Drop your shoulders. Listen for the birds.
Now take a look around.
You’ve done it. The wicked witch is dead.
Staying in the moment instead of criticizing yourself moves you past the second test.
Return to the wizard for your reward.
Test 3: Perfect is right in front of us
This may sound a bit Zen, but perfect IS right in front of us.
Just like it was in front of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
Lessons keep appearing until you learn them. My little Border Collie, Mojo (not Toto), was the one who took me on the journey.
In my mind she was perfect. Sure, she had flaws, but I didn’t go looking for the next magic bullet the instant things got tough. Not with Mojo, anyway.
And to be honest, she wrecked me.
I started to compare every dog after to her. I knew I shouldn’t compare them. But I did.
None ever seemed to measure up.
Have you ever tried to repeat the magic of a great blog post? Or play another impeccable round of golf? You can’t make it happen.
Then it hit me like a wet fish.
The third and final test.
I could spend my life searching in frustration for another perfect dog. Or I could choose my worldview of any dog… like I did with Mojo.
“You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.” – The Wizard of Oz
The two choices of perfectionists
You have the power to make the same choice, no matter what your pursuits are.
J.R.R. Tolkien summed it up in The Fellowship of the Ring.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
You can spend your days beating yourself up that things are not as you wish them to be.
Or you can choose to be a flawed perfectionist.
Acknowledge your strengths. See flaws as challenges. Cherish each moment.
Which attitude is more perfect?
The ball’s in your court.
“That’s what we all are. Amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.” – Charlie Chaplin
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Thanks to Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing for the inspiration for this post.