In the past, when I heard the phrase, “That’s good enough,” I was really bothered. It seemed to me that saying this was settling for less than the best. When I’ve run out of time on a project, I’ve had to resort to that, resigning myself to the fact that I couldn’t get all the details right in time.
Leaving loose ends bothers me. Knowing I didn’t get everything just quite right bothers me.
Yet, I now see this dissatisfaction for what it is. Perfectionism. And I’ve recently discovered that there is a universe of difference between trying to make things perfect and striving for excellence. One is healthy. The other is not.
Perfection is an illusion. Even in nature perfection does not exist. And yet we marvel at the beauty we see there. We don’t say to the butterfly, your right wing is 2 mm longer than the left. We look at the whole wing, the whole butterfly and appreciate it.
Dr. Brené Brown, researcher and author extraordinaire, has traced the roots of perfectionism to a sense of unworthiness. Our unspoken belief is that if we can just do things perfectly, then we will earn our way to being worthy of people’s love and acceptance. But since perfection is impossible to achieve, then love and acceptance based on our achieving perfection is also impossible. Do you see how this feeds into a cycle? If you haven’t heard about any of Dr. Brown’s TED talks on YouTube or seen her on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday morning show, at the very least watch this one: Brené Brown TEDx Houston.
“I want to be worthy of love and acceptance, so I need to be a perfect mother. A perfect daughter. A perfect teacher. A perfect wife. A perfect…whatever.”
“I want to be worthy of love and acceptance, so I need to be thin and beautiful, like the super models. Like the women on billboards, in magazines, in Hollywood.
“In order to be accepted by a publishing company, I have to write a perfect book.”
And what do they tell all aspiring writers? You will be rejected. Accept it and move on. But what this means is, going into the game we’re set up for failure, for rejection, for unworthiness unless we can find our way to believing that we are worthy.
So here’s what I’ve learned:
That being good enough, just as I am, is not settling for something less than my best.
That who and what I am IS enough. No concealer, no airbrush makeup, no fancy hair blowing in the breeze or artfully arranged behind my head on a bed pillow.
That if I, myself, don’t think I’m enough, no one else will. But if I do think I’m enough, others will, too.
To help writers along with our emotional struggle, my friend Kristen Eckstein, the Ultimate Book Coach, created this infographic. It’s actually going to be made into bookmarks for her clients and for giving out to audiences where she speaks. But she’s given me permission to share this with you. Post it on your own blog, then link back to it from Twitter and Facebook. But if you share it, you must include her URL at the bottom. That’s all the thanks she needs.
Know this: You. Are. Enough.