Voltaire once said, “perfect is the enemy of the good.” And as a perfectionist in recovery, I can say without hesitation, the boy was he right!
Having high standards motivates us to work hard and to excel in life.
However, the desire to be perfect only handicaps us. It stops us from doing what we’d really like to do. And if it doesn’t, it deprives us of the pleasure of enjoying what we pursue.
Here’s what happens when we reach for perfection:
We become Haunted by Failure
Under the false illusion that our path in life should be a straight line, we become terrified of curves and detours. Nothing sounds more catastrophic than the idea of making a mistake. So we become scared to death of taking risks. Of going beyond the unknown to try something new.
We don’t see failure as an opportunity to learn and to grow. But only as the most intimidating threat to be feared. So we do everything in our power to avoid it at all costs. Even if it means we stop living.
We Fail to Enjoy Success
If we see failure as our enemy then success would be our foremost ally, right? Well no. Even if we succeed, our expectations are such that any success is perceived as trivial. When we accomplish a goal we underestimate it. And fail to savor it.
There’s always something that could have been done better. A mistake that could have been avoided. A detail that shouldn’t have been missed. In the end, there’s always something that we failed to do, even if we succeeded. Because we failed to be perfect.