Our culture tends to reward perfectionism. Never say die, never fail, never let them see you sweat, be all you can be. And so on.
I’ve worked with–and for–a lot of perfectionists. Some of my best friends are perfectionists. I might have even fallen in love with a perfectionist or two. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve had my own bouts with setting impossibly high standards for myself and then falling short time and time again. Let the self flagellation begin!
It’s a trap.
In fact, more and more research suggests that perfectionism actually hampers success, while being a major contributor to depression, anxiety and even suicide.
Unfortunately, the growth of social media only exacerbates the situation and sets us up for a ridiculous game of comparison as our “friends” share all the fabulous things they are doing, all the great relationships they are in (“best boyfriend ever!”) and all the wonderful food they are enjoying (“nom”).
All these crazy comparisons only make us crazy. When we stop worrying about what others will think we are truly free to embrace being ourselves, warts and all.
Our fear of looking stupid or vulnerable hinders the possibility for intimacy. Letting go of our desire for control and certainty paves the way for real connection.
And it’s precisely our unwillingness to fail that is the biggest barrier to innovation (of all kinds) and personal growth. As Seth reminds us, “if failure is not option, neither is success.”
Fear of failure, of making a mistake, keeps us stuck in so many ways.
Perfectionism is a curse. Imperfection yields many gifts.
What do you say? Let’s go make some mistakes.
A version of this post originally appeared on my purpose-driven blog I Got Here As Fast As I Could.