Seek Persistence, Not Perfection
by Linda-Ann Stewart
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.” Calvin Coolidge
There's an old saying, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." But that concept puts so much pressure on people. They figure that if they can't do it perfectly, it's not worth doing at all. So, because they're afraid of failing, or of doing less than their best, they procrastinate, or they get paralyzed and do nothing.
But perfection is not only overrated, it's impossible. When you seek perfection, you don't try anything new, because you're unsure of the results. Or if you do try something new, it's only what you know you'll do well. You don't do anything new or challenging that will allow you to grow or develop. But you don't build proficiency in a vacuum. It takes time to develop the skill and knowledge to be able to excel at something.
Perfectionism Affects Your Mental Health
Seeking perfection is detrimental to your mental health, as it creates stress and anxiety. The pursuit of perfection also results in low self-esteem and depression. Your self-talk becomes abusive, as you berate yourself for always falling short of an impossible standard. Perfectionism promotes the opposite of what you seek, which is wellbeing and success.
The obsession with perfection is prompted by the fear of failure and disapproval. You're trying to live up to some unrealistic expectations, generally from childhood, and fear rejection if you don't succeed. So by staying in your comfort zone and don't try anything new, you can't fail or be criticized. This causes you to avoid challenges, risk, growth and innovation.
My father used to say, "You don't fail until you stop trying." There's a theory that leaders should seek failure, rather than success, because failing teaches you valuable lessons. You learn more about yourself, are able to cultivate creativity, and acquire empathy through failure. You discover what doesn't work, and are able to apply that to your next attempt. Failure also fosters persistence. Each time you fail, you're one step closer to success, if you keep trying.
Instead of focusing on the outcome of perfection, focus on the process of what you're trying to achieve. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it does build expertise. Repetition forms muscle memory, and creates a habit. Training crafts mastery, which is as close to perfection as anyone can get. But you have to continue to practice, or else you begin to lose the skills.
Persistence Builds Character
Simply put one foot in front of the other and keep going. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, but it continues with taking another step and another. Focus on what you accomplish each day. What did you learn? How can that lesson be put to use in moving forward? You're more productive, efficient and effective, simply by continuing to take action.
Perseverance is necessary for a child to learn to walk, a writer to finish a book, or someone to change a habit. Giving up isn't an option if you want to reach your goal. When you persist, despite obstacles, you build strength and resilience. This becomes a positive cycle that will bring you more success and self-confidence. Let go of the illusion of perfection, and embrace the power of persistence.
Copyright © 2009-2023 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved
As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Watch her FREE training video on Set Your Course to Success: 4 steps to strategically achieve your goals with confidence and ease. Register for the video and accompanying action planning guide at www.SetYourCourseGuide.com. You can contact her at LAS@Linda-AnnStewart.com or 928-600-0452.