Why it's totally okay to strive for excellence, but so not okay to strive for perfection.
Let's just take a sec to be clear from the get-go. Excellence and perfection are in fact, NOT the same thing.
Yep, you heard me right. What you might have once assumed were two things that went hand in hand, are actually, not holdy-hand-able at all.
Y'see these two things take you in two completely different directions, and they deliver two very different results. One can deliver you straight into the realms of fulfilment and brilliance, the other can deliver you straight into the lap of fear and self-loathing.
Which one do you think you're heading for right now? If it's the latter, don't you worry that gorgeous lil' head of your's. Auntie Kerry's gotcha.
So to kick things off, I want to explain the difference between what happens when you strive for excellence, and what happens when you strive for perfection;
Why it's totally okay to strive for excellence:
Whether you're dreaming of creating a business, thinking of starting a passion project or you've an opportunity to go for that dream role in your job – setting out with the target of excellence as your focus, equips you with the mentality to take positive action to achieving it. This bit is key.
Striving for excellence is an encouraging frame of mind, it's inspiring and it's motivating. Striving for excellence doesn't impose limitations, it does the opposite; it presents you with a sea of opportunity, possibility and creative thinking. Striving for excellence helps you focus your efforts in the most effective areas, helping you to be productive and efficient. It essentially creates a challenge that feels exciting to fulfil, and it creates a drive within yourself to create something freaking amazing as a result.
Excellence will get you places.
Why it's totally not okay to strive for perfection:
Well well well, where do I start?! :) Say you're in the same situation as above; you're starting out in business, getting stuck into a longed-for passion project, or preparing yourself to go for that dream promotion. If you set out on those journeys with perfection as your target, you really are setting yourself up for heartache, disappointment and a whole barrage of beating-yourself-up-ness along the way.
Striving for perfection completely halts your productivity. You can become so imprisoned and suffocated by refining the tiniest detail in things, you totally lose sight of the whole reason why you're doing it. Days, weeks, months, years maybe – wasted. Striving for perfection is a complete insular mindset too. It's not collaborative, experimental or creative. It's one-dimensional and anti-social. Striving for perfection paralyses you into inaction. While you're on your 46th version of something (which in your mind still isn't good enough for the world to see), your competition put out their 3rd version and took all of the pie you were competing for. I think you get where I'm coming from.
Perfection isn't going to get you anywhere fast. Or anywhere slowly for that matter.
My friend, if this is you, if you can't help but approach each day striving for perfection, you simply have to surrender a little bit. You have to open yourself up to taking a risk and potentially making a mistake to move forward from a position of depressing inertia and limitations, into a position of growth and adventure.
Y'see the beautiful lil' seeds of excellence really begin to thrive when we decide that we're now calling the shots, over our perfectionism. When you allow yourself that creativity to make some damn mistakes, fail at things and embrace imperfection, you not only allow yourself to totally exceed the limitations your perfectionism gave you, but also completely surpass the potential it took from you in the first place (taking you on a sexy one-way trip to the town of Excellence). You completely evolve from a restricted, tunnel-visioned perfectionist, to someone fully armed and empowered to fulfil their true, beautiful potential. Doesn't that sound freaking cool?!
Some wise owl once told me this and I love it so much, make sure you soak this up;
Top of the class. The highest grade of attainment. The type of accolade some people work a lifetime to achieve. 70%. Just chew on that for a second.
30% less than perfection is in fact excellent.
So why break your balls and be crazy-hellbent on achieving a perfect 100 [which you'll most likely never ever reach btw, and you'll just beat yourself to a pulp in the process], when an excellent 70 has the potential to deliver everything you've ever dreamed of?
Food. For. Thought!
I'm so interested to see where you sit on the excellence vs. perfection spectrum. Has this given you any thoughts on how you approach things? Gimme a comment and spill!