The Journey IS the Destination:
How to Make Perfectionism a Tool and Not Your Master.
“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
About two months ago we talked about failure and how great it actually is. How’s that been working out for you? Not convinced yet? Still miss-applying perfectionism, and letting your insecurities get the better of you? Still worried about protecting your ego more than you are about becoming the best version of yourself and for others? Shots fired much?
Everything has a time and a place. And perfectionism has its place. But if used in the wrong scenario or context it can be detrimental. This is really going to be the key focus of today’s lesson.
Any master of their craft is a master, because they loved the process of learning so much, and committing themselves to it so emotionally that they chose to protect everything they ever learned by honoring it with perfectionism. And in doing so, they applied perfectionism as a pact that they would always try to honor and respect the lessons learned along the way. As well as the humility and sacrifices required to learn what they have, the person it was responsible for developing them into and that they would remain infinitely curious and passionate. Said another way, perfectionism is a pact you apply at some vague point in your journey of mastery, for the sake of honoring the process that got you there, and promising to carry on the rest of the journey with even more passion and curiosity than before. It doesn’t stop there though. Because what you have chosen to preserve is ultimately what you proceed to give away to others who deserve it. If you haven’t reached this point, you don’t deserve to apply perfectionism yet. You haven’t earned this tool yet. And using it will hold you back right now.
So in the case of someone who has truly mastered something, it can be said that while they may have had high standards, they never applied perfectionism right out of the gate. Instead, vulnerability, a willingness to learn and fail, and an insatiable curiosity were the tools and fuel used on a daily basis. But perfectionism never entered the picture. Just a sincere desire to learn, respect and enjoy the process. Instead, virtuosity, the act of doing the common, uncommonly well, was applied. To the untrained eye this can look like perfectionism. It’s not. In fact it’s quite the opposite.
You see, if you try to apply perfectionism to soon, you actually stunt your growth. It’s just too soon. You’ll only endlessly frustrate yourself. You’re putting the cart before the horse. In the history of man, that’s never worked for anyone. You would be the first if it did. Another example might be trying to apply sealer to a block of wood before carving it. That’s never going to work. But… if you learn how to cut, then carve, then whittle, and maintain your tools, then all the different tools for sanding, the different strokes and progressions in grit that will get you the smoothest finish, and enjoy seeing things get more and more refined, then how to apply finisher, how to smooth it out and keep it from bubbling, and build to a mirror layer that will both show case your hard work, and preserve it for others to enjoy and be inspired by… Then you just might be getting the picture… But if you keep getting derailed and trying to add sealer through out that process, you keep yourself from ever achieving what you want and become your own biggest road block.
Unless you have truly mastered something, you have nothing to protect. You have nothing to share with others yet. You need to have developed something, both externally and internally of value before you have anything to protect. Applied to soon, perfectionism is the death to curiosity and growth. And curiosity is the brainchild to passion, and passion paves the road to giving something bigger back. Perfectionism is simply a burden you choose to foster at some point so others can reap the benefits of your sacrifices. Let it go, and give it to those who have earned it. It’s not yours yet. You many never earn the right to use it, but you’ll be able to pick those out in crowd who do, cause everyone looks up to them.
Instead, apply virtuosity (AKA the Apprentice’s Perfectionism). Focus on loving the process, and enjoying small victories, seeing things get more refined, and seeing how committing to doing something better effects you as a person. Enjoy the process of learning. Enjoy the process of going into the gym and trying to practice your second pull of the snatch, or the process of developing your core or following a strength progression that gets you closer towards your goal. Enjoy other people’s success and look up to them when they surpass you, and help them get closer to a point where they can give back. And even then, if you do earn the right to apply it, what you are protecting now is a skill you have amassed that you can only keep now if you share it with others, with the hopes that they will surpass you. Embrace screwing things up. Embrace the process and the journey, and let go of a set path to get to where you want to go.
Next month we’ll start talking about what that process might look like in nutrition, then in fitness, and how to enjoy it. See you all then!
Stuck on something you want to get better at? Let us know. That’s what we’re here for!
Shoot me message if you have any questions at [email protected]