Perfection Is Not Reality

Stop the madness.

You cannot eat perfectly, work out perfectly, live perfectly.

Or if you did, you’d be a miserable SOB that no one would ever want to talk to, or work with, or sweat near.

You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to screw up. You’re going to fall horribly off the wagon sometimes. Derail. In the ditch. Wheels off the bus. (Use every single transportation metaphor in the entire English language if you have to. Metaphors for everyone!)

It happens. And it really doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do after the wheels are off the bus.

Do you pick yourself up and carry on? Or do you go back to your couch and feel sorry for yourself and give up? Or do you try again but keep making the same mistakes over and over again?

That’s where you really tell me something about yourself and your character.

I’m not interested in the person who never made a mistake. And I’m not interested in the person who made a lot of mistakes and did not learn from them. But I’m really interested in the person who made a lot of mistakes and learned from them and got better. That’s the person who can teach all of us something. That’s the person to keep your eyes on. That’s the person to stand near in the workout and feed off their energy — because that person is going somewhere we all want to go.

Someone said this to me today: “The stress from pursuing perfection will a lot of times outweigh the benefits.” And he’s right: sometimes, we make our own kind of crazy and it’s counter-productive to our goals. We think we have to live at 100%, when instead sometimes we’ll be at 103%, sometimes at 80%, sometimes at 90%. What matters is your batting average, not each swing of the bat.

So, dial everything in and go like hell, but don’t think everything has to be perfect all the time. It can’t be. And that’s okay. You’re going to learn a hell of a lot more from driving that bus with 3 wheels than you ever did with 4. And when you take it into the guardrail (and you will) get out and put the spare on and keep going.

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8 comments
Whitney
Whitney

Love this essay. I just recently wrote about my moments of weakness or cheats as I like to call them. I love reading your blog you are very funny and raise a lot of interesting points.

Kate
Kate

Thank you for this posting. I really needed to read this today. Actually, I'm quite certain I need to read this everyday.

Lisbeth
Lisbeth

Thanks, all! Glad I can help. I'm as guilty as the next person of trying to be perfect at everything all the time, so I guess it's about giving myself permission to be human too. Well, that is if I was human . . . (cue the creepy music . . .)

Pat
Pat

Great stuff as usual, Lisbeth De-railing and re-railing... it's real life!! Daigle, you can drive your wheel-less bus because you "choose the wrench"!

Daigle
Daigle

My bus hasn't had wheels on it for years, but I can still drive the shit out of it. Good read Darsh Vader...if you need more metaphors you know who to call :)

Bo
Bo

Right on!

Ponch
Ponch

Lisbeth, I recently found your site and am enjoying reading your words very much. This one hit me in a sweet spot. I have been trying to live perfect and crushing myself in the process. I was turning into an emotional and physical wreck. I actually told myself how horrible I was for not being better. When people would acknowledge my efforts(Good job,Nice work) my response was "I should have done better" instead of Thanking them for the encouragement. I have turned that around now. Now I do the best I can and see that I already am perfect the way I am. Keep up the good writing.

Chabot
Chabot

This one is going into the favorites bank!!! Thank you.

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