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Perfect is the enemy of good.

jessica's journey May 19, 2024

Have you ever felt like life is trying to teach you a lesson at the worst possible time?
That was me last night.

It's 2:16 am as I write this blog.
I have been trying to sleep for the last 2 hours.
I am currently sitting in my bed, eyes wet with happy tears.

Last night, I performed at my second piano recital as an adult learner 🙌🏾.

Early in my song, I missed a note and suddenly panicked. Then, my fingers started trembling - a feeling I've never experienced before. I continued to play to the end, but couldn't seem to shake the nerves or some of the mistakes that came with them.

While many people came up afterwards to tell me how much they enjoyed my performance, my brain has been consumed with how imperfect it was.
Despite my gratitude for their kind words, I was disappointed in myself.

I couldn't see the good.

This morning as I tossed and turned, I was awakened by the phrase "the perfect is the enemy of the good".

I always understood this to mean that focusing on perfection stalls us from moving forward to create something good. Like how they say if you're 80% there, you're ready.

This morning that phrase takes on another meaning to me.
It also reminds me that the desire for perfection keeps us from seeing the good that occurred in our pursuit and our execution.

I didn't play my song perfectly, but I did:

  • finally perform a song I actually love - something I'd wished I could do as a kid at my recitals.
  • play a song that forced me to stretch beyond my comfort zone.
  • learn, memorize, and perform, a 3-page song that was continuously being re-composed just weeks before my recital.
  • build better boundaries around my time so I could practice at least 15 minutes per day.
  • become more disciplined about the time I give to my hobbies, just as I do for my work (something I rarely did as little as 2 years ago).
  • keep going even when my fingers felt disconnected from my brain.
  • receive applause and praise despite the mistakes.

This morning, I cried as two thoughts came to my mind:
🎯 It doesn't have to be perfect to be good.
🎯 It doesn't have to be perfect to be worthy of praise.

As a recovering perfectionist, this is something I needed to be reminded of.

What moments have you viewed through the lens of perfection that stole your ability to see the good?

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Perfect is the enemy of good.

May 19, 2024