I think we all have perfectionist tendencies. We want to put our best into everything we do and have the reflected in something that, at least in our minds, is perfect. And that right there is the key – IN OUR OWN MINDS. Perfection is about how YOU define it, not about what someone else decides is perfect.
This valuable lesson was taught to me through my fourth-grade teacher, Ms. McIver. I grew up in a VERY small town (graduating class was 88 people.) For my town, Ms. McIver was a bit of an oddity. She insisted on Ms. – never Mrs. or Miss – and had adopted two children from Korea. Rather than forcing them to fit into her culture, Ms. McIver learned about theirs. This alone made her far more multi-cultural than any teacher I’d had to that point. She even taught (accurate) lessons about Judaism – no other teacher until high school did that.
All of that is to make that point that I respected her, a lot. When she talked about other belief systems around the world. I listened. And here’s where the lesson about perfection comes in.
Like most classrooms back then, Ms. McIver’s room had a large bulletin board that she regularly changed to reflect the work we were doing in class. One day, she stapling a new border around it when one of my classmates point out that there was an inconsistency in how she laid out the pattern. Rather than fix it or ignore, Ms. McIver used it as a teachable moment.
She had us all stop what we were working on, pointed out the “mistake” (giving the student who told her about it credit, of course) and explained how in many First Nation cultures, they would purposely leave mistakes. We were all horrified! She went on to explain that in their belief system, perfection was only for the Great Spirit and as mere men (and women) they had no right to try to claim perfection for their own. So to ensure they never did (even by accident) look for perfection, they would purposely leave “mistakes” in their work.
I have no idea what, if anything, the other kids in my class learned, but for me this was a life changing moment. I felt myself letting go of the need to impress other people and live up to their expectations of perfection. That has lasted through to present day.
Publicly, it’s obvious even in my website. There are issues that are pretty clear to anyone who looks at it. They’ve proven difficult to fix. So I made a choice to count them as “I’m not perfect” flaws and move on.
Today, I challenge you to learn the same lesson I did and let go of your need for perfection. Truly, holding on to it is blocking your connection to Spirit and harming your happiness. Let it go.