Today we’re going to talk about THE CURSE OF PERFECTION and how to exorcise it.
“The Curse of Perfection.”
👆 That’s a phrase Stan Beecham uses in his great book Elite Minds.
In fact, it’s actually the name of one of the chapters in his book.
Quick context before we get to work…
Stan Beecham is a sports psychologist. He’s worked with many of the world’s elite athletes.
As per the title of his book, he tells us that it’s their MINDS that make the difference in sustained high levels of performance—creating a competitive edge and maximizing success.
Stan tells us: “We must accept that every now and then, we will have a bad day. When I talk with elite athletes, I ask them the following question: ‘If you were the best athlete in the world at your event, how frequently would you have a bad day?’ Surprisingly, many great athletes believe they should get to a point where they no longer have any bad days (or failures). But in reality, the best and most self-aware of those athletes report that during the course of a 30-day month, they have somewhere between 3 and 6 bad days. They understand that having a bad day is simply part of the process. The ability to accept these fluctuations in performance allows athletes to remain fully engaged in their training and keep their goals high.”
He continues by saying: “How you function during a good day does not define your character. It’s how you function during a bad day that is the true test... In order for you to reach your potential, you must know how you respond to poor performance. It is critical information you simply cannot move forward without.”
And: “If perfect is not the goal, what is? It’s simply Do your best. That’s it. Each and every day, make it your intention to do the very best you can with what you have that day. As I said earlier, in your daily journal, give yourself a W [for Win] or an L [for Loss] for each day. If you did the best you could that day, you get a W. If you did not do your best, you get an L. The goal is to have six or fewer Ls in a month. And you never want to have two consecutive Ls in a month.”
And, finally and MOST IMPORTANTLY, he tells us: “It’s okay to have a bad day, but you must make yourself recover quickly and get back on track. Remember: The goal is not to be perfect. It’s to do your best and recover quickly from failure.”
There’s a TON of goodness in there.
First, are you, like me, a recovering perfectionist?
If so, check out Conquering Perfectionism 101 and all those Notes—especially Tal Ben-Shahar’s The Pursuit of Perfect which is easily one of THE most life-changing books I’ve ever read.
Do YOU think that you’ll magically get to a place where you no longer have bad days?
Where you no longer fall short of your ideals?
If so, GET RID OF THAT perspective.
It might just be your biggest obstacle to crushing it.
We need to KNOW that we’re NEVER going to once-and-for-all get it all right all.the.time. We will not, I REPEAT, be the first perfect human beings.
Our potential is asymptotic and every day will ALWAYS feature moments in which that wonderful gap between who we KNOW we could be and who we’re actually being appears.
And THAT is PERFECT.
We need to EXPECT to have bad moments and bad days.
Then we need to master the art of having what Jim Afremow would call “good bad days.”
How do we get good at that?
By working our protocol and trying to do our BEST—especially when we don’t feel like it.
Remember: If you have a bad day (/a day when you *don’t* do your best), WORK EVEN HARDER to execute your protocol the next day.
As we’ve discussed, I like to call those Rebound Days.
Here’s to letting go of the curse of perfection, embracing the constraints of our reality and doing our best.
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