Oh perfectionism. I know thee well. You are the character trait that says, “I don’t want to make any mistakes at all. Ever. I want to do things right the first time, all the time.” You are the character trait I displayed the most while in school because you were frequently rewarded. Every time I did something “perfectly” I got an A, which got me attention, love, respect, validation. I got pats on the head and encouragement every time I trotted you out. I’ve attributed the successes of my life to you, thinking you were the reason, you were my motivator. And even though I graduated years ago I’ve carried you with me ever since.
For instance, last night I had a business coaching session with a friend of mine. (Have I mentioned another friend and I are starting a business
?) And because I had no idea what I was doing, I felt really uptight about the whole thing. Because I don’t want to make any mistakes at all. Ever.
Even though I’ve written about mistakes
, and perfectionism
, and becoming a master
, I have not cleaned up my past regarding perfectionism. So every time something comes up that resembles my past, perfectionism turns up like an eager puppy ready and willing to perform its tricks.
In thinking about all this, I’ve realized I’ve been portraying mistakes as something negative to be avoided at all costs. Yes, yes, there are no such things as mistakes, only choices, but tell that to the school girl who brought home a D on her math test. You know what mistakes really are? They’re the zest of life.
“Mistakes” are what life is made of. Closing the gap between a “mistake” and true alignment is the thrill of life. It’s that act, that feeling of, “Ah, now I understand this,” that is what life is all about. It’s coming into perfect alignment with who and what we are. The forward movement, the progression, the expansion, is the essence of life. Mistakes are the physical manifestation of that move toward expansion. If I started at the finish line every time I began a race, I wouldn’t have anywhere to run. It’s the journey from the beginning to the end where joy happens. Truly. We are growing, expansive creatures. So mistakes are awesome. Mistakes are beautiful. They are an opportunity for us to move forward, to become one with what we want. Closing that gap is the zest of life.
When I look at it that way, why on earth would I want to start doing things perfectly? I miss the whole point of forward movement and growth. I miss the whole point of expansion. I miss out on the thrill of finally getting what my teacher is instructing. The joy in learning comes not from acing a test but from starting something new and then having the “aha” moment where it all clicks. That’s where the pleasure lies. Right there.
So instead of lamenting my “mistakes” and beating myself up for not knowing all the answers to everything, I sigh in relief and look forward in anticipation to where I’m going. I’m on a thrilling ride where I continually close the gap between what I don’t know and what I do. I love that process because that’s where life happens. That’s what I came on this earth to experience – the process of continual expansion. And expansion is a thrill that cannot be matched.
I dream of a world where we cherish our mistakes because that means when we finally “get it” the resulting feeling will be magnificent. I dream of a world where we love where we are and look forward to where we’re going. A world where we recognize the expansion that takes place in us is the most thrilling aspect life has to offer. A world where we recognize love holds no bounds and we are a part of all that is.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.