Does perfection impede your progress and alienate you from others?
I used to work in an office with Griselda* who knew everything about everything. She scrutinized every single phone conversation I had, every document I created and every chart I filed – for my own good and the good of the office, of course.
And she didn’t just “supervise” her co-workers. One day, a single mom with two little kids came into the office. While the mom was doing her business, the children got curious and noisy in the waiting area. From her desk, Griselda sternly chastised them into cowering submission, mortifying the mom and the rest of us onlookers.
The cost of perfectionism.
I’m all about doing your best, but when perfection is the taskmaster, and you can’t measure up, it sucks the want-to right out of you. Being told by someone else (or yourself) you need to be perfect wears you out and keeps you from experiencing new things and new people.
Progress only comes with practice.
Think about it. How do you master any skill? How do you learn a new language or a musical instrument? How do you get good at cooking or tying your shoes or driving a car or playing chess?
Practice! You have to be awful at everything before you can be great at anything.
In the the messy middle when the learning is hard and you’re failing and you are tempted to quit, you need to remember that progress only comes with practice.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Do your best with the skill and time you have.
- Allow yourself the luxury of being good enough as you become more accomplished.
Replacing lies with truth.
I’m done missing out on the fun of meeting new people and having new adventures because I’m afraid I’ll fail or look foolish. If you are, too, then replace the lie that perfection (this side of heaven) is achievable. Let go of the fear that you can’t try anything unless you are sure you’ll be really good at it.
The Bible says do not be afraid over 300 times, because fear, specifically the fear of imperfection, is a weapon the enemy uses relentlessly to keep you scared and small and isolated!! God is certainly powerful enough to teach you new things and redeem any mess you make in the process of progress!
I’d love to hear what new thing you’re practicing as you shuck off perfectionism. Leave me a comment below. I’ll respond to as many as I can.
Scripture: Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)
Prayer: God Almighty, strip the lie of perfection from me. Restore me to do good work, and assure me that it is good enough as I do my best. Guard my heart and mind from believing that I am not worthy or that I must achieve to be accepted.
* not her real name.