What is Perfect, Anyway?

The other day I shared this poster, with the suggestion that letting go of the myth of perfect and aiming instead for becoming ever more real is part of the journey toward getting unstuck. One of the comments pointed out a perceived contradiction in that I tell folks never to settle for mediocrity, but then encourage just being “good.” I want to clarify what I meant here, because I think it’s important.

For me, it’s about starting from a place of realistic expectations. Even if we could define “perfect,” I think it’s unattainable. Not only is it sharply subjective, it’s an unnecessarily high bar that doesn’t lend itself to the grace that comes with making — and learning from — our mistakes.

We also need to re-evaluate how we define “good.” Good is not the same as mediocre. It doesn’t connote failure or even settling. As a society, I think we’ve become so focused on the loftiest and most attention-getting superlatives that we’ve inadvertently diminished the meaning and value of some really positive words, like little old “good.”

A wise colleague once told me, “Don’t be such an over-achiever. There’s nothing wrong with just achieving.” When that truth sunk into my bones — when I was reminded that “achieving” is a pretty stellar accomplishment — my life changed in such dramatic ways. I set new standards for myself, based on my own values and priorities instead of what I thought others expected of me. I redefined what success looks like — not for anyone else, but for me. And I became much happier in the process. That’s why I will take feeling my brand of good over striving for someone else’s perfect any day.

I’d love to know what you think: Has “good” somehow evolved into “not good enough?” Do we set our bars too high, or too low? Is “perfect” an attainable state? Please, weigh in!


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