“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you that practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.”
The search for perfection threatens to destroy in the movie "Black Swan."
The world around us sends mixed messages on the value of being perfect. It’s implied that if you don’t aim for perfection, you’re doomed to be mediocre.
For me, this week more than most, I’m inclined to believe in the destructive nature of expecting a perfection that doesn’t exist. It’s been a stressful week in the office. People are inadvertently tearing others down by focusing on microscopic, inconsequential details and expecting perfection on them. If they pulled back out of the weeds, they’d see the broader achievements of an overloaded, short-staffed crew who has miraculously maintained effectiveness in the face of various challenges.
Shadows of the Black Swan
Ironically, after having written this week’s main article for my blog about perfectionism (see “Forget Doing it Perfectly – Just Do It.”) and dealing with unrealistic perfectionism on a company-wide level, I unwittingly chose to go see a movie in which perfectionism was a central theme. The movie was Black Swan, with Natalie Portman. This dark, Continue reading
Sometimes it's better to do something imperfectly than do nothing at all.
It would seem I keep learning the same lesson over and over again in my life. And here it is again, arising as a first key insight as part of this Getunstuckblog.com experiment: It’s better to do something well enough than to strive to do something perfectly and never do it at all.
Whether it’s trying a new sport, learning a musical instrument, taking a new position at work, painting a house, or writing a blog, forget doing it perfectly – just do it. If you’re a perfectionist at heart, I’d wager “good enough” will be fine.
Is there something that you’ve been putting off because timing isn’t quite right, or you are waiting until you have completed all the appropriate preparations? Are you someone who’s afraid to take a drawing class because you don’t already know how to draw? Do you have aspirations to write a Great American Novel but can’t get past the first chapter because it isn’t quite right? How much might this type of perfectionism contribute to being stuck in a rut?
“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without,” Confucius said. Continue reading
Money can't buy you love, class, nor get you unstuck.
Ever dream about wining the lottery as a way to get unstuck? I do. I daydream about paying off my mortgage, quitting my job, donating to my favorite nonprofits, living off interest and seeing the world. All of my problems would be solved, right?
Probably not. Money didn’t by happiness for many lottery winners (see “More Money, More Problems? Managing a Windfall“). Nor did hitting it big solve problems for Ted Williams, the homeless man with the “golden voice” who had the world at his feet for a short time before relapsing into his prior traps (see “...From Rags to Riches to Dr. Phil in 10 Days“).
I also remind myself of a few amazing opportunities I’ve had to take extended breaks from “real life” to backpack travel in foreign countries. At first, the trips were great vacations, but eventually, I’d find myself feeling desirous of a more productive and meaningful purpose. The freedom was great, but to me, a fulfilling life is about more than that.
I still dream of winning the lottery and the financial freedom that could provide. However, as many lottery winners and the man with the golden voice have shown, being stuck is perhaps less about access to fortune and more about what we do with the fortunes we already have.
This week’s challenge is based on the idea of getting clearer on desired goals and beginning with the end in mind (see related post: “Resolutions & Intentions: You gotta get more specific“).
Think about your 2011 New Year’s Resolutions, and see if you can’t take it a few layers further into specificity. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, it might look like this: Lose weight = lose a total of 20 pounds = losing 2 pounds per week through exercising 3 times a week and cutting out pastries.
Here are my own getting-more-specific 2011 goals for learning about blogging via Getunstuckblog.com: Continue reading
If you’re feeling stuck in your career or in a dead-end job, then perhaps creating your own opportunity is in order. The Wall Street Journal offers 10 good reasons to start your own business in 2011.
“Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned at birth.” (Richard Bach, Illusions)
Getunstuckblog.com is a work in progress that will take shape throughout the year via trial and error. I’ve decided, however, that it would be impossible to engage in this year-long experiment and be able to judge whether it’s been successful unless I can define for myself specifically what it means to be “stuck.”
Is being “stuck” the result of a series of perceived dead-ends? Is it a lack of Continue reading