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Perfect is hard work

Do you want to be perfect? Really?

To live a life where you never make mistakes, do the wrong thing, always look flawless, get all you want, everyone likes you, and everything is perfect.

How boring. What learnings would you have missed? What plan B’s would never have happened, and what opportunities would have passed through to the keeper?

My beautiful stepfather, John, who has been a second Dad since I was seven, has always called me ‘The Brat’. A term of endearment that I’d never questioned.

Recently, he had a knee replacement and needed a physio to get his leg moving again. I recommended my physio as I had become very well acquainted with him during my last injury-riddled season playing baseball.

No surprise, during their first appointment, my name came up. I had brought them together after all. When John mentioned that he calls me ‘the brat’, the physio questioned why? John replied, “because she’s (me) so perfect.”

I was mortified. You’d think that hearing these words from someone who knows you inside out would be music to my ears. After all it was a well-intentioned compliment. And I would have taken it that way years ago, not now.

Not after I’ve done a bucket load of inner work and personal development to rid the unrealistic pursuit of perfection. I know it’s an illusion that holds us back and limits our growth. Because no matter how hard you try or what incredible things you achieve, it’s never enough. Not to the perfection seeker.

NASA needs perfect when they send astronauts to space. Doctors need perfect when operating on delicate human bodies. But everyday humans don’t. It’s an imposed human curse with little value.

It’s our imperfectness (imperfection may be more grammatically correct) that makes us unique. I have wasted so much valuable time and energy doing 90% more than necessary to benefit only by a smidgen.

The extra hours labouring over a presentation to get the fonts and images perfect, only to be told there’s a spelling mistake. The countless hours spent hunting down the ‘perfect’ outfit to have people say they didn’t even notice what you were wearing.

Not to mention the countless risks not taken to avoid failure or to prevent toppling off my self-created (and unrealistic) mantle. I’d be a gazillionaire if I had a dollar for every moment I wasted striving to uphold this ‘perfect’ illusion. Can you relate?

Now, I’m on a mission to help fellow ‘perfect’ chasers reconsider what’s important. Where could a little less still be good enough? Where can you drop doing that bit extra and the impact be minimal? Maybe it’s turning a blind eye to the clothes left on the floor for a few more hours, wearing the same outfit twice to consecutive events, or a hair being out of place in a photo shoot.

Maybe it’s the sneaky snort that pops out when you laugh hysterically, the stutter when saying something meaningful, or the coffee spilled during an important meeting.

When things are less than perfect and our humanness is exposed, behavioural scientists call it The Pratfall Effect. It’s where our woops, bloopers, or blunders can make us more endearing. As a result, we become more relatable and seem more human (assuming competency has been established).

You can be clever, professional, credible… and imperfect. Go figure!

It takes a load of pressure off when human trumps perfect’ as life’s benchmark.

My beautiful Mum has always said that the things that go wrong make the most memorable stories. We rarely share tales of the perfect event or the flawless person, but we get enormous mileage from the mishaps and reality that didn’t go to plan.

Recently, after a tedious four-hour delay, my flight from Melbourne finally landed in Sydney. Over the loudspeaker to a plane full of grumpy passengers, the flight attendant announced, “Welcome to Adelaide, where the local time is 5.30pm”. The laughter from all aboard was priceless.

Where can a little less perfect be the medicine you need to take?

And I’ll happily keep my stepfathers nickname, The Brat… with one caveat. It’s based on my imperfect self.

Cheers, Kim

 

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