“I’m giving up chocolate for Lent”.
“I’m giving up wine for Lent”.
Chances are, you’ve heard this or similar from some friends round about now. For many people, whether religious or otherwise, Lent is seen as a time for abstinence. Traditionally people talk of giving up some material pleasure for Lent, usually with the implication that they will take it up again after the 46 day are finished.
However, what if we went a little further? Rather than just temporarily giving up something material, what if we chose to give up certain behaviours which hold us back, and to give them up permenantly? That’s what this is all about. Over the course of Lent, each week there will be another suggested behaviour for us to “give up”. Let’s get started with Week 1!
Striving for perfection is often seen as an admirable trait. It is seen as a Good Thing which ensures that whatever we create or do is of the highest quality possible.
Unfortunately for us, perfection is next to impossible to ever achieve, and far from helping us, the need for perfection actually holds us back and stops us from making any progress at all.
Consider the Quality Assurance (QA) department of any company, tasked with ensuring that the quality of their product or service meets acceptable standards. One might believe that the need for perfection would be perfect (no pun intended) for such a role. After all, it would ensure that every Widget that leaves the factory is perfect, thereby ensuring high quality product for satisfied customers. Right?
Wrong. Perfection is impossible to achieve. There is always something which could be improved, there is always some imperfection, no matter how much attention to detail one employs. Which means that no Widget will ever be Perfect, which means that a QA team member operating from a need for perfection would always find some reason to reject every Widget. All of which would mean no product ever leaves the factory, which means no income, which of course leads the company to bankruptcy.
This article itself – is it perfect? Absolutely not! There is always room for improvement, there are always ways in which it could be made better. So if I felt the need for it to be perfect, it would never ever get finished and you would never ever get to read it.
For far too many people, the perceived need for perfection causes the same problems, leading us to fail to achieve anything because we are always waiting for perfection before we are satisfied.
Which is a shame, because we are allowing our perceived need for perfection to stifle us, to hold us back, and to prevent us from fulfilling our desires, our wishes, our destiny.
So, if we are not going to aim for perfection, does that mean we just decide that “anything goes”?
Not at all. We still want whatever we are creating or doing to be fit for purpose of course. However, what it means is that we decide in advance what is needed, what is acceptable, and we use those as our guide. Once it is good enough, we can finish and move on to our next step or next project.
If we have been used to seeking Perfection, it can be a huge leap to settle for Good Enough.
So, instead of thinking in those terms, I like to suggest to my clients that they think in terms of being Perfectly Imperfect. What does that mean? Well, it recognises that whatever we have created is imperfect (as everything always will be). However, even though it is imperfect, it does everything we require of it, it does what it was designed to do, and its imperfections don’t cause any problems; in short, it is Perfectly Imperfect!
Thinking in terms of perfect imperfection satisfies the part of us that still seeks perfection, whilst allowing us to get things complete and to move forward, whilst giving up that disempowering need for perfection.
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