The Futility Of Perfectionism

perfectionist jokerThe new professional Life Coaches version of Aligning With Your Core Values is now being sent out to people who have per-ordered well ahead of the official July 1st publication date, and the Kindle version is not far behind.

If you want the chance to grab the book at up to 75% discount don’t hang around and click the link above because as soon as I get the Kindle version I’m closing the pre-sale down.

When I got the following post from Steve Bloom I was close to saying ‘no’ a third of the way in.

Then he delivers a couple of awesome examples that tie everything in really nicely and he does a really great job of making his point.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and we’d both like to hear your take in the comments.


The Futility Of Perfectionism

I’ve met a lot of people who have, at one point or another, called themselves a perfectionist.  I’ll admit I’m one of them.

My story of how I developed a need for things to be perfect seems to be quite typical.

I grew up thinking perfection was a great goal.  I learned in school that mistakes were bad and to be avoided.  I was always told to push myself to be the best.

It never occurred to me that perfection was an unattainable goal.  I thought that if I just tried harder, I could push myself to reach it.

I reasoned that perfection was something you could attain.  After all, you could get perfect scores on tests in school and my parents always told me how well I did at everything.  Isn’t it all like this?

Of course, now I realize that it isn’t.

Grasping At Perfection Is Like Trying To Plait Fog

Life is way too complicated for perfection.  There are rarely opportunities to get a perfect score.  Trying to turn myself into the perfect person wouldn’t work.  It’s an idea that simply doesn’t happen.

Although now that I look back on my life and reflect, I see this as a good thing.  I’m older and wiser now.  I can see that finding my perfect self wouldn’t have been such an ideal endpoint.

Now I see things differently.  I see a lot of great attributes to imperfection.  Weirdly enough, I often see imperfection as preferable to perfection.

The idea that imperfection is preferable to perfection started rather simply in an art class.

In college, I took a 101 class in art.  It was very basic with introductions to various styles, art movements and famous painters.

As the class progressed, more and more art styles were introduced.  One day the teacher begins class by talking about Islamic art.

This style involves a lot of geometric shapes and patterns so it was a relieving change of pace from the traditional Western styles that had dominated the earlier classes.

I found the art style particularly fascinating.  As I read about it, I came across a curious quirk: the artists always include a mistake in the creation process.

Deliberate Imperfection

It seems that imperfection is a quality they purposely put into their work.

Their most beautiful, highly-prized artworks contain these mistakes.  Even though they have these imperfections built-in, they’re great pieces of artwork.

This realization challenged my belief about imperfection.  I saw how I could appreciate a whole piece of artwork – flaws included.  It made me realize that flaws can sometimes be beautiful.

It took a famous celebrity to challenge my ideas of imperfection even more.

When I was growing up, Cindy Crawford was a powerful figure.

She was an extremely successful supermodel who appeared on the cover of countless magazines.  She had roles in many TV shows and movies and even hosted a popular TV show on MTV.

perfectionism quoteWhen Imperfect Is Better Than Perfect

Yet by traditional standards of beauty, she has a huge imperfection: the mole on the side of her cheek.

At any point in her career, she could have paid a doctor to remove it.  She could have airbrushed it out after her photo shoots.  Yet she didn’t.  She kept it all the way through her modeling career.

I once read in an interview that she hates the idea of airbrushing her mole.  She’s talked about some of her earliest shoots when the mole had been removed after the photos were taken.  It’s something she’s always regretted.

So what’s her attachment to this imperfection?

Cindy Crawford keeps her mole around because it defines her.  It’s what makes her stand out from every other model she’s ever worked with.  Her imperfection makes her memorable; it’s iconic.

Without it, she’s just another model.

There’s a really great lesson to learn from her.

Imperfections aren’t things we should always avoid.  They aren’t things we should simply tolerate.

Many times we should embrace our imperfections.

Newsflash: You’re Not Perfect

They’re a part of who we are.  In fact, we should be happy that we’re not all perfectly made.

Could you imagine what the world would be like if we were all the same?  There wouldn’t be any defining features that differentiated you from anyone else.

I’m happy that I’m imperfect.  My flaws are a part of me.  I’ve come to appreciate my own imperfections in a similar way to a great work of Islamic art or Cindy’s mole.

I am who I am partly because of them.  They make me unique.

I may not have put them there, but over the years I’ve learned to love them.

There are times when you should strive to push yourself to be the best and there are times to embrace your imperfections.

Imperfections shouldn’t necessarily be things you feel bad about.  You can see them as something that makes you a unique individual, because guess what?

You are.


Steve is the writer behind Do Something Cool where he blogs about self-improvement, travel, personal growth and living a full life.  Get tips on living life to the fullest through Twitter and Facebook.