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4 Lessons about Perfection Born from 1000 Failures

4 Lessons about Perfection Born from 1000 Failures

March 14, 2012

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” ~Voltaire

This was just not working out. I had ended up in a failed attempt every single time. This was my 4th day of trying to fix everything.

I had wanted to make a video for my blog—just a minute-long introduction. Not that I didn’t have one already.

I had a video up and running. But that was from my first attempt, and everyone knows there is always room for improvement.

After the video went up, I started to see how I could do better than that. I was not going to be satisfied with something just good enough.

I wanted to emphasize the right words. I wanted the right amount of pause where it mattered. And just enough rise in the tempo of my voice where needed.

The lighting had to be perfect. An overcast day would not help. I wanted to dress right, I wanted to look right.

I wanted to sound enthusiastic, not pushy. I wanted to put my best out there.

My husband offered help with setting up my precarious camera set up. But I politely refused. I wanted to do it all by myself.

I didn’t need to lean on anyone to get the million settings just right. I was being self-reliant, or so I told myself.

My camera stood on a tripod pulled to the maximum. My lap-top was perched on top of a step stool which stood on a cane foot rest, which in turn was balanced on a dining chair. This was needed in order to bring the tele-prompter software running in my lap-top level with my line of sight.

Then there was the little matter of keeping my bouncy toddler from demolishing my rickety set up with a single sleight of his hand.

If persistence was something that could be learned, I had got it down pat.

I would record a little clip of myself, run back to my camera, run the clip, understand what setting needed correcting, adjust camera zoom, focus, height accordingly, reset the tele-prompter, flatten my frizzy hair and then come back to my seat to record yet another blooper.

I must have done this a thousand times.

As I started shooting, it was as if an invisible force was sabotaging all my efforts. A few times the noise from overhead planes disrupted the shooting. Another time, my cell phone rang from a friend who hadn’t called in years.

Sometimes my voice got hoarse. From what, I don’t know. I never get a hoarse voice.

Once or twice, the camera battery ran out. Next, my lap-top battery ran out. If nothing else, I faltered mid-sentence during recording.

An awful lot of things weirdly went wrong every time I tried to re-shoot. I spent nearly three hours each day in order to perfect my minute-long video.

By the fourth day of turning various knobs and engines to get the set up right, I was fed up. It came to a point that any day that I planned to re-shoot the video, I got cranky.

I wondered how simply watching a minute-long reel of myself could make me feel so imperfect. It wasn’t like I hadn’t shot videos before. But this one was different in exactly one way.

I hadn’t needed to compete against myself before. Here I was, trying to outdo my original near-perfect attempt. And I was failing at every step.

In the end I was forced to stop and rethink my intention. I took all the things going wrong as a sign of resistance I was creating in and around me. The technical glitches, the flying planes, the hoarse voice, the overcast day were all part of a bigger lesson waiting to be learned.

I took a step back and tried to think what it might be. That was when I realized what was really wrong.

It took me a thousand failed tries to find the perfection in me. And where was perfection hiding? In my first attempt.

I was perfect just as I was.

My failures were teaching me to remember to acknowledge the good in me instead of craving elusive perfection.

So what if the lighting could be a tad brighter? So what if certain words could have been replaced with their close synonyms? So what if my voice could have been a touch sharper?

My best was coming through in so many ways in my original video. I was pouring my heart out. That video was at least good, if not perfect.

Why was good not good enough? I could keep trying to improve it, chasing perfection, or acknowledge the good in my original attempt. I chose the latter.

Here are the 4 lessons about perfection I chose to keep from my umpteen shooting flops:

1. Acknowledge the good in yourself.

Yes, you need to improve, but see what is right with the picture, too. Perfection does not mean only seeing what is wrong.

2. Accept help from others.

Don’t be ashamed to accept help if it is going to make your life easier. Our best work can rarely be achieved single-handedly.

3. Be aware of your larger purpose.

Make an effort to not get lost in insignificant details and lose sight of your goal. Perfection does not equal nit-picking.

4. Aim for awesome, not flawless.

This can be tricky, since we could stop ourselves short fearing that we might be pushing ourselves too hard. Perfection tastes best when peppered with balance.

Photo by Mythlady

About Sonal Pandey

Sonal Pandey is a software engineer turned self-help blogger. Through her blog, Tap Easy she helps her readers break through limiting beliefs so they can attract the life they want. She uses the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping, a powerful self-help method that brings dramatic, lasting changes, naturally.

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