“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”
According to Wikipedia, perfection is broadly a state of completeness and flawlessness. It is an ideal that we all strive to achieve. But is it imperative to be perfect in all that we do? The below people are undoubtedly the epitome of perfection, and they illustrate its follies.
1. Steve Jobs
Steve Job’s perfectionism was legendary. However, did you know that his obsessiveness with perfection caused him to be unable to purchase a couch for 10 years? In the book Steve Jobs, his wife Lauren Powell is quoted as saying,
“We spoke about furniture in theory for eight years. We spent a lot of time asking ourselves, ‘What is the purpose of a sofa?'”
Be on guard, and do not hide your indecision behind the mask of perfectionism. Instead of basing your decisions on subjective ideals of perfection, it is good to be objective when making decisions.
2. Lance Armstrong
Now disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to doping as a means to live up to the perfect story—a hero who overcame a deadly diagnosis of testicular cancer, and went on to repeatedly win the Tour de France, while having a happy marriage and family. Perfectionism became his worst enemy.Advertising
Perfectionists have an intrinsic fear of failure. They wish to be a success at everything they do. Sometimes, to achieve that success, they pay a very steep price. Lance paid with his integrity to maintain his ideal of the perfect story. However, wouldn’t the world still consider him an ultra-human champion if he simply competed after his cancer recovery?
Something that a perfectionist would perceive as failure would be a moment of triumph for others. In general, one should be more accepting of their failures and think of them as a necessary part of the process. It is fine to make mistakes. In time, they become the stepping stones to success.
At 73, Michelangelo was working intensely on the sculpture, Florentine Pieta—the sculpture that many historians regard as his most mature and provocative work. He put in an enormous amount of personal effort and energy to make it the perfect sculpture, until one day, he took a sledge hammer, and chopped off the sculpture’s arms and legs. Why would he break apart one of his greatest works that was born after a decade of brutal labor and emotional pain ? Well, Michelangelo, a perfectionist, was angered by the flaws in the marble.
Perfectionists, tend to have excessively high performance standards of doing things. They invest all their energy to ensure that all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s crossed. However, many times this obsessive attention to detail, that manifests from the now or never attitude, takes up our valuable reserves of time and energy. This can lead them to abandon projects mid-way, and thus lose sight of the goals that matter the most.
4. Emma Watson
Did you know that Emma Watson cited perfectionism as the reason for taking a break from school?
In today’s world, it is difficult to narrow down our focus on the one most important thing. At work, it is expected of you to have competencies in multiple areas. At home, there are a lot of things that are fighting for our attention. Being a perfectionist does not allow multi-tasking. Instead it narrows down our choices and forces us to focus on one thing at a time, which, unlike Emma Watson, might not be a luxury everyone can enjoy.
5. Sheldon Cooper
The Ingenious Jim Parsons, portraying the character in Big Bang Theory is a classic example of a perfectionist personality that is not just obsessive and dogmatic, but also rigid and inflexible. He always wants to be in control of things, to the point of choosing and reserving his favorite seat in the apartment.
“In the winter that seat is close enough to the radiator to remain warm, and yet not so close as to cause perspiration. In the summer, it’s directly in the path of a cross-breeze created by opening windows there and there. It faces the television at an angle that is neither direct, thus discouraging conversation, nor so far wide as to create a parallax distortion. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.”
Perfectionists wish to have the perfect order in the universe, and to maintain the order, they become rigid and inflexible. Some go to the extent of controlling others, or if that does not work, they isolate themselves from society.
6. James Cameron
On re-releasing Titanic in 3D, James Cameroon, fixed the star constellation in the final scene of Titanic. In an interview he explains,
“Oh, there is one shot that I fixed. It’s because Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is one of the U.S.’ leading astronomers, sent me quite a snarky email saying that, at that time of year, in that position in the Atlantic in 1912, when Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the star field she would have seen, and with my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in. So I said, ‘All right, you son of a bitch, send me the right stars for the exact time, 4:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, and I’ll put it in the movie.’ So that’s the one shot that has been changed.”
Perfectionists often have trouble with focusing on priorities. They put in time and energy into things that are irrelevant, or of secondary importance. This in turn forces the projects to go in delays or excessive expenditure, where none might be required.Advertising
7. Bob Sullivan
When Bob, an investigative journalist, more than a decade ago was teaching at the University of Missouri Journalism School, asked his students, “What was the most important task of a newspaper editor?” His students shouted many answers such as “To break new stories,” “To be Fair,” etc. However, Bob said that none of that is true. What really matters for the Newspaper editor is the promise that the paper will be there every morning at 6 a.m when people wake up. He theorized:
“The most insidious of all human imperfections often lies hidden in the weeds most of our lives. But it rears its ugly head and screeches for our attention in an environment of intense deadlines. It kills all learning, and dooms us to a life of plateaus: the desire to be perfect”
Being a perfectionist forces us to conform with societal norms and expectations. A perfectionist ensures that there are no surprises—good or bad. The basic ingredients that make life interesting are weeded out leaving the perfectionist in a dull and boring world where each day is the same as the next one.
8. Russel Crowe
Russel’s perfectionist attitude has provided us with some thought provoking performances. However, perfectionism becomes a hurdle for him when dealing with criticism. When Adam Lambert criticized the director of Les Miserables for not finding better singers for the production, Russel Crowe, one of the leading actors in the movie, took the criticism personally. He recorded a studio version of his showpiece song in Les Miserables and posted it online, showcasing his singing talents. He blamed the poor vocals in the movie on the director, who insisted on shooting raw and real vocals, than the pre-recorded studio versions.
Perfectionist often view criticism as a personal attack and in turn become defensive when receiving feedback for their work. They are unable to take negative feedback in the right perspective. As a result, they bubble-wrap their weakness, instead of taking positive actions to deal with it in a healthy manner.
9. Sherlock Holmes
The famous detective’s perfectionist aspect is that he must have the most intriguingly complex case, to challenge his incredibly genius mind. However, when there is nothing to challenge him, he gets depressed and indulges in substance abuse.Advertising
“My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”
Perfectionism can make one depressed, frustrated and angry, especially if it does not see to bear the desired results. Most of the times being a perfectionist involves being anxious, and fearful of the imperfect world, which in turn leads to panic and anger that steadily turns into depression. It is a vicious circle that is not easy to get out of.
10. David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace, an award-winning American novelist, short story writer, essayist and professor, struggled with perfectionism.
“Perfectionism is very dangerous. Because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in…it’s actually kind of tragic because you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is”
Perfectionists do tend to demonstrate the five dark Personality traits: Argumentative, Impersonal, Narcissistic, Insensitive and a Fear of Failure. Beware of these traits. In the end, the big question is would you embrace these traits as an acceptable cost of being successful? I sure would love to hear from you about that in the comments below.
Last Updated on August 19, 2019
How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want
We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.
When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.
In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.
Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.
If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.
According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.” Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.
No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.
When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.
Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.
1. Embrace Your Vulnerability
When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.
Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.
When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.
Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.
In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.
It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.
You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.
Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.
What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?
You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.
That’s where we all should be.
So, answer me this:
How are you, really?
And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.
Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.
Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.
Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)
Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.
It’s taking control.
2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity
You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.
You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.
In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.
Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.
You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…
Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’ When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.
But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?
It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.
In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You
It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.
Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:
Change will happen.
Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.
You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.
And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.
You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?
That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.
You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.
When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.
3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking
Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.
In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.
If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.
Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.
Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable. It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved. It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.
How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?
Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.
“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.
Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.
Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.
It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.
Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,
“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”
What would you do if you felt you were enough?
By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.
So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.
By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.
Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.
When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.
You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!
More About Living Your True Self
- Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life?
- How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track
- How to Find the Purpose of Life and Start Living a Fulfilling Life
- How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com
|||^||Svend Brinkman : Happiness Has Become an Emotional Burden|
|||^||Clayton Barbeau: Shoulding Yourself, Shoulding Others|
|||^||Meagan O’Reilly: A Stanford Psychologist Says Feeling You’re No Enough Rips These 5 Things Away From You|