Perfection is Not the Goal

Jan 10, 2024

I sat in front of the Zoom camera, ready to hit record. I needed to create a two minute video for my clients to kick off the new year and welcome them to our monthly coaching group. I made sure my lighting was good, my camera was at the correct angle, and my filter was making my skin look a little smoother than reality.

I pressed record. "Welcome everyone, and Happy New Year!" I said enthusiastically to the camera. Then I noticed I raised one eyebrow. I do this often, but to see it on camera looked so awkward. I pressed stop, then started again.

"Welcome everyone, and Happy New Year! I'm so excited to be kicking off 2024 with you and your team, and spending the day together in our workshop."  As the sun popped out from behind a cloud, a beam of light came through my window and cast a shadow across the side of my face. I stopped the video and waiting for the shadow to pass.

On my third take, my dog sauntered by in the background, and I thought, how unprofessional. Take four.

I was on my 7th attempt at filming a two minute video when I realized that I was trying to make it perfect.

Why? Who ever said perfection was the goal? 

After all, isn't it more important to be authentic? To be natural? To be candid and real? So what if my face has a shadow on it as I talk? Will that take away from my message, or curb my enthusiasm for my coaching clients? Will people conclude that I am delivering a less-then-professional work product if my dog walks behind me while I am filming?

(Are you thinking less of me right now because I left a typo in that last not-perfect paragraph?)

There I stood, camera on, beam of light back in my face, dog now laying down soaking up that same sunbeam-- and I had to pause and laugh at myself.

The fact of the matter was: I had wasted 27 minutes and had not yet created a two minute video. 

Perfection, I had to remind myself, should no longer be the goal. 

But sometimes we spend so much time making our presentations, our outfits, our holiday card photos, so perfect that we forget to be real

I was watching a short YouTube video recently, and the speaker sneezed in the middle of his talk. I mean, he let out a gigantic Ahhhhhhchoooo! Then without missing a beat, he said, "Wow! Bless me!' and kept on talking. I laughed admiringly at his authenticity and confidence. And his not perfect presentation.

Those of us who are high achievers struggle with this.

Are you nodding? Yeah, you can relate. That's because we were the kids who always got all A's. When the scale spans 1-10, we are the ones who want to score nothing but a 10.

But perfection-- always striving to be the A student-- can hold us back. It can stop us from taking risks. It can keep us from reaching out to someone for rear of rejection. It can keep us from giving important feedback, for worry we not get our words "just right." Perfection can keep us single, still waiting for the perfect match. 

Perfection can be lonely. 

So let's stop making perfection the goal.

What if, dare I say, we start being okay with some things being just okay? What if we accept that 80% is still a solid grade? It makes me uncomfortable typing these questions-- but I also know discomfort can indicate that growth is happening.

For 2024, could you give yourself a little bit of a break? Show yourself some slack? (But not confuse showing yourself some slack with being a slacker. I don't mean that at all.)

What if we begin to understand and accept that "good enough" is totally acceptable by most people's standards. I'm not asking you produce shoddy work or take short cuts. I'm merely suggesting that your long-standing desire to create things perfectly might be slowing you down, holding you back, wasting your time, or even isolating you from people who might feel like they cannot ever measure up to your reputation of perfection.

For 2024, I'm trying something new, and I'm asking you to join me...

What if we let ourselves be okay with things being just okay? 

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