The Only Perfect Way to Cross a Stream is From One Side to the Other

The 12 Pitfalls of Perfection

Do you like hiking… being outdoors… in the mountains?

I love hiking.

Hiking in Oahu

HIKING IN OAHU

I love the mountains.

I especially love the mountains of the Appalachian chain – the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains are some of my favorites. And recently I discovered that the mountains of the northern and eastern side of Oahu are very similar to the mountains I call home in East Tennessee.

Most of all, I love the lessons nature can reveal to us if we’re open to it.

For instance, whenever I hike the lush, forest-covered mountains for any length or time, I know that eventually I’m going to come across a stream that needs to be crossed.

And if you’ve ever had the privilege and experience of being on a hike and having to cross a stream, then you know there’s no “perfect” way to cross a stream.

In fact, there are dozens of ways to cross the stream.

You could try to stay dry by jumping, hopping and skipping from rock to rock in a delicate outdoor ballet – or depending on your balance, a half-falling, half-moving-forward display of human movement.

And here’s the thing…

The rocks you choose may not be the same rocks in the same order I choose.

Doesn’t matter.

Or maybe you just like to plow through the water – shoes and all.

Still another person might take the time to stop in the middle of the crossing, take off their shoes and socks, and let the water soothe their feet for a while… just enjoying the cool mountain water.

Like the popular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial says, “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s”.

True.

What’s also true is that there’s really not a wrong way (or a perfect way) to cross a stream on a hike.

In fact, there’s really no such thing as perfection.

Ahhh… perfection.

It seems like such a noble and worthwhile pursuit doesn’t it?

I mean we’ve heard sayings like:

“practice makes perfect” or

“perfect practice makes perfect” or

“the perfect body” or

“the perfect song” or

… well… you get the point… people like to throw the word perfect around quite a bit.

Trouble is, looking for… striving for… trying to get things… “perfect” is a huge pitfall.

Unfortunately, this pitfall keeps us from actually getting things DONE at all.

So what?

I’m a big believer in pointing out the obvious and opening up conversation around what’s going on in our heads.

Why?

Because when we can get out of our heads and put a voice to the stories and conversations going on in our heads, then we can begin to distinguish… to get perspective on… what’s going on.  

When we can get out of our heads and put a voice to the stories and conversations going on in our heads, then we can begin to distinguish… to get perspective on… what’s going on.

Sean McCool

Again… so what? And why does this matter?

Here’s why it matters…

The stories, beliefs and conversations going on in our minds – usually on autopilot – are typically the source of what stops us from doing, and therefore having, what we say we want.

I want you to have and be everything you want to be and have, Champion.

And that starts with two things… perspective (usually outside perspective like a coach)… and eliminating perfectionism from your life.

So in this post, I’m going to quickly cover the 12 Pitfalls of Perfection.

As we go through these together, see which ones sting… see which ones you resist the most… see which ones hit a little too close to home.

Then, at the end, I’m going to ask you to share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Also, as you go through these 12 Pitfalls of Perfection, consider how each one could be stopping you from having and being who you want to be and what you want to have in each of the 4 key areas of your life, ie., the FIRE of life – Fitness, Identity, Relationships and Enterprises.

The 12 Pitfalls of Perfection:The 12 Pitfalls of Perfection InfoGraph

  1. Perfection isn’t possible. Nothing has ever been perfect in the literal sense of the world. You might as well go looking for a unicorn. 
  2. Perfection is a waste of time. You’re not allocating your most scarce resource – time – intelligently if you’re trying to be perfect.
  3. Perfection causes you to get less done. When you try to be perfect on every aspect of a project, then the whole project will never get done. An imperfectly completed project is “more perfect” than a partially completed perfect project. 9 times out of 10, done beats not done. Period.
  4. Perfection is often a sign of insecurity. The drive for perfection is often an attempt to cover up for a perceived lack of enoughness. When you believe you aren’t good enough as you are, it’s common to believe that doing everything perfectly will prove, finally, that you are worth noticing and being listened to… that’s a ridiculous burden to carry through life.
  5. Perfection leads to procrastination. It can be tough to take the first step if you believe the outcome has gotta be perfect.
  6. Perfection is unhealthy. Perfectionists are more prone to heart disease, anxiety, and mental health issues. The quest for perfection causes stress. Stress is damaging to the body and mind. And oh yeah… stress makes you fat too. So there’s that. 

    The stories, beliefs and conversations going on in our minds – usually on autopilot – are typically the source of what stops us from doing, and therefore having, what we say we want.

  7. Perfection causes others to leave and let you go at it alone. People have little patience for perfectionists. Everyone else wants to get things done and get on with their lives. You can accomplish much more with the help of others. This does not mean don’t have high standards – just enroll others in a vision of what it could be and let them help you get it realized; not perfect.
  8. Perfection leads to frustration. There’s only one way to be perfect and thousands of ways to be anything less than perfect. Therefore, you give yourself thousands of ways to be unhappy and only one way to feel content. Them odds ain’t exactly stacked in your favor :/
  9. Perfection is an enemy of success. Perfection is the desire to avoid failure. However, success always includes failures along the way. Perfection and success aren’t compatible.
  10. Perfection leads to unreasonable expectations. When you expect perfection, you expect what is impossible to capture. It can’t be done reliably ore repeatably because conditions change constantly. So even if you got it perfect this time, one variable could throw off the entire process next time.
  11. Perfection can breed anger. Perfectionists feel contempt for anything less than perfection. This isn’t healthy. It also makes you unpleasant to be around. If you have an unrealistic expectation for perfection, then no one will ever meet your standards. And your anger towards them just makes everyone – including you – miserable.
  12. Perfection snuffs out happiness. Happy people don’t feel the need to be perfect. And people that are driven to be perfect are too consumed about the future of how it could be to experience the happiness or right now. 

In others words…

When you really look at the cost, perfection ain’t so perfect after all.

Look over this list again.

What jumps out at you? 

When you really look at the cost, perfection ain’t so perfect after all.

Sean McCool

Then, ask yourself:

“Why do I feel the need to do things perfectly? What’s that really about?”

For me, when I get into perfection mode, I know I’m not feeling worthy… I’m feeling like me – just as I am – is not enough.

Let me tell you, Champion, that’s a lie straight from the great deceiver himself.

The truth is much more powerful.

I love how Brennan Manning says it in Ruthless Trust:

Our very existence is one of the never-to-be-repeated ways God has chosen to express himself in space and time.

Brennan Maning, Ruthless Trust

Hmmmm… perhaps perfection does exist… right now… in you… as you are.

In your corner,

Sean

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