Anyone struggle with perfectionist tendancies?
There is a lot that’s not perfect at the moment… How well our technology is working, our summer plans awry, the state of the house… And if I go deeper, there’s my assessment of myself as a friend (needs improvement), and whether my kids will be harmed long-term by my demanding home-learning methods (they will probably be OK). And no matter how well the day or the conversation or the meal went, I will always manage to find something in myself that could be improved.
Lately, however, I have felt liberated by this quote: “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good” (John Steinbeck) I had forgotten that perfection is unreachable. I have found it a huge relief that I am not aiming for perfection. Good is good enough.
Infact there is an argument that you can’t actually BE good until you quit trying to be perfect. (Is that what Steinbeck meant?)
Years ago I was appraising the lesson of an NQT. The lesson had some great components, but it was all the wrong way around. When I fed this back to him, he showed me his original lesson plan, with everything in an order which flowed seamlessly from one idea to the next. What happened?
He over-thought it. He over-worked it. For some of us, the lesson we need to hear is: “It’s good enough”. Or to coin the phrase of leadership coach Craig Groeschel; it’s “GETMO” – Good Enough To Move On.
They say that doing something you are not very good at, just because you like doing it, is good for perfectionists. So I watched a video called ‘Calligraphy for beginners’, and wrote out the quote. Appropriate, don’t you think? It hangs in my downstairs cloakroom: To remind me who I am, and what I am not, and don’t need to be.
From now on, I will try to leave perfection to God.