You may believe that you are your own harshest critic. That is probably exactly how it should be. No one is better suited to complete an honest and accurate assessment of you than you, so go ahead and be a responsible critic of yourself and your efforts.
You should expect more from yourself than anyone else will expect. You should be willing and able to set a standard for yourself above where anyone else could set it for you. Demanding your best effort and realizing when you can do better are traits that will serve you well and virtually ensure that you will make good decisions that are consistent with your goals and a self-directed lifestyle.
The trap to avoid here is not to overdo it. Being unrealistically hard on yourself will only serve to impede your progress and damage your own self-worth. In being overly critical of yourself, you may inadvertently create a situation that stunts your personal growth. In some cases, you may even convince yourself that you will never live up to your own standards or your own definition of perfection.
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? Your concept of perfection might be enabling you to not make any decisions at all because you have made yourself believe that you will just end up finding all of the flaws and errors in those decisions, real or imagined.
My friend, the Imperfect Perfectionist reached this exact same point in the road a while back. Before she knew any better, she was content to live her life under the belief that she wasn’t accomplishing much because her standards were too high. It was somehow okay if she didn’t finish a project or meet a deadline because her perfectionist standards were more important than production or the intended results.
Then, one day and purely by chance, she ran into a couple of old college friends, the Guiltless Wonder and Infinite Self. They got to talking and reminiscing about old times and it wasn’t long before they were filling each other in on what had been going on in their lives. It is important to note that, at this stage of her life, the Imperfect Perfectionist was known simply as the Perfectionist. As she told her story, Infinite Self almost immediately recognized that Perfectionist was simply living under a similar false pretense to the one that Infinite Self had previously subscribed.
Perfectionist was using her perfectionist standards to excuse her behavior and give her cover for what had otherwise been a less than remarkable existence. When the Guiltless Wonder and Infinite Self shared their insight and the experiences that helped them to become super heroes, Perfectionist grasped what they were telling her and decided, on the spot, that she did not want to hold herself back any longer.
Ironically, at the exact moment that Perfectionist decided that she would become the Imperfect Perfectionist, she gained super hero abilities. By embracing her imperfections, she, in a way, became perfect or at least a person who possessed extraordinary powers.
She decided that her objective, from that day forward, would be to seek a path and journey that provided her with the best possible way forward. She would no longer expect to make all of the right moves and take all of the right steps.
She began to understand that she could not become a good decision maker without making some bad decisions along the way. Her key would be to determine what she could learn and how she could grow from her experiences. To do that, she just had to make sure that she had actual experiences and that she didn’t shrink from the challenges they presented to her.
She accepted the fact that she was not perfect and that she never would be. She further determined that she would be guided in her endeavors by her pursuit of perfection, all the while remaining imperfect.
So, how in the world does that make sense? How can the Imperfect Perfectionist be happy, imperfect, and pursuing perfection at the same time? The answer is that she understood she could be imperfect, but that she could still achieve and experience perfection. Further, that answer had been right in front of her the whole time.
When she really thought about her life and her experiences prior to her transformation into the Imperfect Perfectionist, she remembered many moments and instances that were actually perfect.
She thought about the day she met her future spouse and despite how much time had passed since that encounter, she still remembered everything about that moment as if it had just happened a few hours ago.
She thought about the birth of her child. She could feel the immensity of that arrival in her heart as if it was actually happening all over again right at that moment.
She thought about the time that she hit the game winning shot for her eighth-grade basketball team during a game against their arch rivals.
She thought about all of those instances and moments and several more and she realized that the common thread amongst every single one of them was that she would not change a thing. Each of those moments played out exactly how she wanted them to and how she might have dreamed they would had she thought about them happening before they actually did.
By definition, that is perfection and she knew it was achievable because she had already experienced it.
If you were to embrace your imperfections and commit to the pursuit of perfection anyway, just like the Imperfect Perfectionist, what might you be able to accomplish?
This is the 4th chapter of Scott Arney's Super Hero Series.
Be sure to check Scott's Spot on Patrolmen's Dispatch for each chapter of his Super Hero Series, which starts with Fear is Our Enemy; and his ongoing Serial Decision Maker series.