Archive for the ‘perfection’ Category

Perfection is a Moving Target

August 9, 2017

One of my recent books is titled “Slightly Irregular Underwear” with the subtitle “Sometimes Imperfections Can Be Perfect.” The idea popped into my head on the day I was shopping and came upon a display of underwear just piled up on a table under a sign that read SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR. Intrigued by the possibilities of irregular underwear, I shuffled through the pile, wondering if I would find bras with three cups or panties with sleeves. I was surprised to find seemingly normal underwear with no distinguishing characteristics.

I asked the sales person to explain to me the meaning of the description and she said that this was underwear that had hidden flaws, but no one was really sure just what they were. All she knew was that the factory had labeled them slightly irregular, so the store marked them at half price and set them out on a table. I inquired as to whether one had to be slightly irregular to fit into them, and she said she didn’t think so, therefore, I purchased five pair of slightly irregulars, wondering if the irregularity was that they would self destruct after being worn for three hours.

Happily, I have worn my slightly irregulars and all is well. Whatever imperfections they possess have not been noticeable to me. The point of this is that we sometimes plan for ourselves, a life that is perfect. There is certainly nothing wrong with shooting for perfection, as long as we understand that perfection very rarely happens. In reality, our lives are usually slightly irregular and when they are, we tend to discount the value of the imperfections. We focus on what’s wrong and mistakenly assume that everyone else is focusing on the imperfections, as well. We label ourselves as a failure or lock in on what we did wrong, rather than what we did that was right. We discount our not-so-perfect experiences and cast them off as useless.

Am I extracting a life lesson from my underwear? Well, yes I am! When things don’t go as planned, how often we throw up our hands and proclaim our failures as worthless. We discount our not so perfect experiences…our slightly irregulars…and think of them as inferior or useless.

What I have learned over the years is that perfection is a moving target! Also, sometimes in hindsight, it is difficult to distinguish between the good days and the bad days. I guess it’s because I actually have derived more benefit from my imperfect experiences. My slightly irregular days have been the ones that have caused me to reevaluate my goals, put things into proper perspective, and reaffirm that I will live through failures and disappointments.

We need to learn that one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to set goals and strive for success, but one of the most harmful things we can do is to feel a sense of failure if we fall short of those goals. In striving for perfections, we learn to accept and even embrace our imperfections.

So ends my “life is like slightly irregular underwear” story. I hope it makes sense to you. I leave this topic with one final thought…while it’s always nice to have lingerie from Victoria’s Secret, we can also benefit from slightly irregulars. And besides, it just may be that Victoria’s secret is that she is slightly irregular.

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Aim for Progress…Not Perfection

December 1, 2015

In facilitating a recent workshop on personal development, I heard many in the group express frustration over not being where they thought they would be at this point in their lives.  They felt as if they hadn’t reached the perfection for which they had been striving and had fallen short of their goals. Wow, I can relate to that one! As the saying goes, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.”

Seeking perfection is a lofty ambition, but chances are, it’s not going to happen…at least in the way we picture it in our minds. Real life takes time and sometimes we get side-tracked or things don’t fall into place quite the way we planned. But consider this: we are human and our imperfections are what make us perfect.

In my own endeavors, this is what I have learned: When I focus on making progress and getting better with every step rather than achieving perfection, I am happier and less frustrated. When you see your goal as a journey rather than an end-point, you get pleasure in every incremental improvement along the way. This doesn’t mean that you don’t always try your best; it simply offers a way to reach your goal in a healthier way. Expecting and demanding perfection of yourself 100% of the time is a prescription for frustration.

Many things in the world contribute to our belief that we must achieve perfection or we will not ever be worthy or able to fulfill our dreams. Take the advertising business, for example….we are bombarded with air-brushed beauties and surgically enhanced bodies in magazines, movies and on our televisions. Every time I see a Victoria’s Secret model, I want to wear a sleeping bag to cover up my imperfections! I think Victoria’s biggest secret is that not many real women with their original body parts look like one of their “angels” in underwear! Whether it is appearance, athleticism, financial success or anything else we hold as a goal, we are healthier and more balanced when we realize that if it takes us a while or even if we never reach perfection, the journey is the most important part because that’s where we learn.

We also deal with competition in most areas of life and we tend to focus on the end point rather than the process. When we expect immediate perfection rather than steady progress, we become frustrated.  It helps to remember that our struggles of today will be our strong foundation in the future.  Also, focusing only on perfection can sometimes inhibit creativity.

Most people who achieve perfect scores in any life event, have traveled a long journey to reach that end because there aren’t many shortcuts. When we are working toward something, we need to feel like we are on the road to somewhere and that we’re growing while we’re going. Those growth spurts take place through mistakes, failures and setbacks. They are a part of reaching goals, and perfection really doesn’t need to be the only prize! And actually….not achieving the goal of perfection could mean there is a greater destiny waiting to be discovered!

And finally….remember that imperfections are what separate the true art from the manufactured products!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and coach who is full of imperfections! Her latest book is titled “Slightly Irregular Underwear…Sometimes Imperfections are Perfect!”