Perfection is progress in the right direction

… and progress is one of the secrets to happiness

© Roald Kvam 2021

The Wabi-Sabi Way

When we progress, we grow. When we grow, we light up our life. Even if it’s in some small way, light is still stronger than the darkness that we reduced. Even though just a tiny bit, it’s a bit brighter now.

Too many people die with some life left in them. They never unleashed their potential, because they got caught up in perfection.

Good is good. Always! Better may be better. Sometimes. Perfect is the imperfect progress. Here are a few of my other favorite reminders about not worrying about doing things perfectly:

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good

Often it’s more important to focus on “good enough for now” so we can move on to battle the next barrier, and not get stuck in analysis paralysis on bridging gaps to perfection.

Make it work, then make it right

Meaning: Don’t get caught up in premature perfection. Too often, right after we think: “This is pure perfection, I nailed it!”… new elements and opportunities come along and need to be adapted or incorporated to this premature-kind-of-thing-called-perfection of yours. Of course this reminder needs to be balanced with the fact that if you don’t have time to do it right, secure time to do it over later.

Perfection is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the journey of learning and mastery. This is the essence of continuous improvement. Thinking back, this is really the one thing that helped me avoid a life of worrying about perfection, and instead, focus on progress. I deeply depend on progress. I trust progress to bring me further than perfection ever can do. 

I choose Growth over Goals.

Better is better than best

Focus on progress over perfection. To get better at something – it takes practice, you have to do it more than once. But if you are caught up in perfection, you can’t practice very much, but worry. 

Is it effective?

This is a simple reminder, but it’s effective… Because it nurtures a much better focus than worrying about some arbitrary notion or measure of perfection: A simple reminder that if it isn’t working, just change your approach. It’s far better to focus on effectiveness, improvement of, or a new approach rather than a picture of “perfect” you don’t feel you truly reach. New growth is in a new approach – not in you judging yourself for failing in regard to an estimate of what perfection looks like.

“Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well”

Yes, I know, we just put Shakespeare on the stage. But, I’ve seen so many good things come to an end, either for the sake of perfection, or over-doing something that was better in it’s rough and useful form. I’ve seen some great art, great ideas, and great projects die that way. Sometimes you just need to leave well enough alone.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

And here is my mechanic too. I don’t know much about cars. I just drive them. I am the dream of any mechanic that wants their customer to throw good money after bad. I truly need a mechanic that cherishes customer relations over time more than good profit once. Of course because it’s perfect for both of us: I am taken care of, and he gets far more money as time drives by… than fool me once.

If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content

It’s one thing to have great expectations, but don’t let your expectations drain the juice out of your life. It’s far more effective to embrace imperfect, the Wabi-sabi way. 

The Wabi-sabi-what? I know! But listen: When we name or label something, we can store it in our mind easier and use it to draw from when we need it. It gives us a simple way to refer to something and make sense of it. I have discovered a new word to make sense of flaws and appreciate them: Wabi-sabi.

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese term that captures the idea that imperfections can make things perfect. According to Wikipedia, Wabi-sabi is beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” and it embraces authenticity by acknowledging “nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

Perfectionism is fundamentally flawed

Here’s what Wikipedia says about perfectionism: “Perfectionism: a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”

If we are to live by “Perfectionism” too many people will die with some life left in them – never unleashing their potential, because they get caught up in perfection. On the wrong terms.

The good news is you don’t ever have to fear perfection. I don’t. I don’t even care! It’s not that I don’t have standards or do set some targets to reach, good or the better. But I simply don’t fear perfection. Why? I will never reach it… Never! It’s just an estimated picture based on what we know here and now, of what the end of the journey might look like. 

Listen: The only thing that can take us to the end of the journey, to see what it truly looks like? Guess? Yes: Progress in the right direction. How perfect is that?

Publisert av dreieskivaroaldkvam

Coaching, Advisory & Strategic Thinking

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