Progress Over Perfection

I’d like to challenge your thinking, just like a friend challenged mine. She proposed the simple idea of, “What if we celebrated progress, not perfection?”

We exist in a day and age where ‘the best’ is praised. Where faster and bigger mean better. Nothing less than the best is acceptable, and if we cannot achieve that, then we are labelled as not good enough. Most instances deem the second or third best as a failure. We beat ourselves up when we do not achieve something we wanted to the first time trying. It’s not until we achieve the goal that we feel worthy of acclamation. We’re only allowed to celebrate the end result. Whatever I do, I want it to be done with excellence. While this isn’t a bad standard, it can be a dangerous one. It is easy to be upset with the process. It’s difficult to see the value in the small victories when working towards something because it wasn’t the end goal, which can feel like falling short of the mark.

The first word that popped into my head when she asked this question? LIBERATING. This notion changed everything. Suddenly, we begin to appreciate learning as part of the process. This shift gives room to be proud of the small victories. We begin to operate with a mindset that motivates towards improvement rather than the pinnacle of perfection. It reintroduces having grace for yourself, just as God has grace for us.  Once this mentality is adopted, it becomes far reaching. We not only learn to find joy in the process of things, but it becomes infectious. It equips us to be able to champion, encourage and support those around us.

A workmate was telling me about her recent trip to the gym where she found herself in a boxing class. She was recounting the story of how she had to lay on the ground during the workout to ensure that she wouldn’t pass out while everyone else continued on. As with anybody, I could imagine how discouraged she would have felt.

The next week, this friend told me how she went to the class again. She retold how she didn’t have to lay down this time and modified many of the exercises to be able to complete the workout.

She was celebrating progress over perfection. Her mindset was incredible. It was a mindset that contributed to working towards a greater goal but patting herself on the back along the way for the improvements she had made. Her attitude and response brought a beautiful satisfaction that she would not have had if she only was going to be happy with herself for completing the workout at top speed and keeping up with the people who have been doing it or ages.

So why not go for it? Why not celebrate the in-between moments? My hope is that you adjust your mindset to know that you are doing pretty good and begin to celebrate progress over perfection.

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