Why You Are Awful Until You’re Perfect

“But I’m awful!” “I’ll never get it right!” “I’m the worst!” “I Suck!”

How often have we heard and said things like this about something we wish we could just be PERFECT at the first time?

Why doesn’t life work like that?  I decide I want to be a football player, or a beat boxer, or a judo master, author, pianist, chef… and I should be able to wake up the next day and be awesome at it, or at least decent, right?

The world doesn’t work like that anymoreThere was a time when your only competition was the tribe you lived in.  There were 15 boys and 15 girls, and only certain genders did certain things (hunting vs. foraging, cooking vs. eating, etc.)

On top of that, history went back as far as the aural tradition could hold.

So really, to be the best Mastodon hunter EVER, you really only had to compete with the 14 other guys in your tribe (some of which are old and frail and some of which are infants) and the few dozen ancestors people can remember off the top of their heads.

For centuries, to be the best singer ever you merely had to be the best in your province, then the best in your nation, then the best in your continent.

In the 21st century, your competition is THE ENTIRE WORLD.  And if you don’t believe it, you are stuck in a mindset that will hold you back more than you could possibly believe.

Take a peek at youtube for 5 seconds and tell me that each singer/comedian/artist on there isn’t competing against every other one in their field in the entire world.

So now that we know the playing field, take a second to let this fact sink in: If you want to be great, you will be awful, until you are perfect.

There is too much competition out there today, there is no more “good enough”, it’s AMAZING or it’s crap.  That’s the world we live in today.  If you want to present what you have to the world, accept that a lot of people will think it is crap because it is not absolutely perfect, and it will keep being crap until it is absolutely perfect.

Have you ever heard Pavorotti sing a wrong note in concert?  How about Sinatra messing up the words on a CD?  How about Johnny Depp screwing up a line on screen?

It’s not good enough, and it doesn’t happen much anymore, at least not in the public eye.

You need to learn to allow yourself to fail strategically, on your own or in a supportive environment with people that are okay with you being terrible for a while.  No great concert pianist played it perfect the first time.  No CEO was a perfect manager the first day on the job.  No amazing parent made it through the first few years without letting loose a few choice words in front of the little ones.

Decide to fail, and to fail brilliantly, and give yourself permission (or even, a goal) to fail, because you will be awful until you are perfect (and that never really happens).

Once you are comfortable failing by yourself, try failing in front of others.  Go out with the INTENTION of messing up and being imperfect.  If you go out hoping to be perfect you’ll never achieve it, if you try to be imperfect, you might surprise yourself, and worse case scenario, you are completely successful in what you struck out to do.

Intentional failing is a common theme with me, and you’d be amazed at how much of a big deal failing is in your head, and how little it matters in real life.  Most people avoid failing by avoiding any action at all, and in so doing, avoid success.

Choose to fail…

And you choose to succeed.

~ by Christopher G Keene on September 1, 2012.

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