“Perfectionism is a foolish aspiration in an imperfect world.”
Uncertainty is uncomfortable. We are hard-wired to seek the comfort of certainty. We prefer to have confidence and security in our lives. We do our best to create the trappings, often the illusion, of a secure future. The challenge lies in the variations life throws at us.
I have over 5,000 landings at over 300 different airports as a pilot. The vast majority of those landings are at three dozen fields that I frequent in my travels and training. Strange as it may sound, I have never had two landings on the same field under identical conditions. The winds are constantly changing. My speed, angle of attack, and approach never mirror the last landing, so I am constantly adjusting to the imperfections thrown at me. As a group, pilots love the challenge of nailing our landings in the most imperfect circumstances. Landing an aircraft reminds me of one of my life’s maxims. “Change is constant, so we can never step into the same river twice.”
Overall, we do not seem to cope well with change, life variations, or uncertainty. Most of the time, we are ill-prepared for life’s challenges, and the result is ugly. We want things to appear reliably predictable and make sense following a rational set of rules. Truth is our belief in order, and rationality is illusory. Meaning much in our future is arbitrary or imperfect despite our careful planning. Planning only provides us with a framework. To combat life’s constant curveballs, we must be able to cope with new challenges. I like to call it mastering life’s imperfections.
The elements of the mindset of someone trying to master life’s imperfections.
- They learn to fail. Success lies beyond failure. Success is born from failure.
- They grow from their mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Look at them as learning opportunities rather than failures. Improvise, adapt and overcome.
- They celebrate baby steps on the road to success. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments before brushing them off and hastily moving to the next task. Learn to take a compliment.
- They accept who they are. We are perfectly imperfect with strengths and weaknesses.
- They never surrender to perfectionism. The beauty of the journey or process lies in our imperfections. We are works of art, a true magnum opus always working on performing better, not best.
Also, by accepting our imperfections, we can challenge the old bottlenecks in our heads: (1)
- We can get started early on projects instead of procrastinating. Beginnings can be messy and embarrassingly ugly. Without perfectionists’ yoke of fear, we can edit our work without worry.
- We move forward faster than in the past, learning and feeding off momentum.
- We silence our inner critic. Our “good enough” with reflection is pretty damn good.
- We move beyond the suffering of all-or-nothing thinking to improvise, adapt and overcome every challenge.
- We bounce back from mistakes or lapses in judgment with an inner attitude of “this too shall pass.”
- We ignore the minor annoyances to focus on the big picture.
Learning to cope with life’s imperfections brings true joy to our everyday. Let’s turn off our inner critic and just embrace our flaws. We can see our imperfect tomorrow with a sense of awe and astonishment as if through a child’s eyes.
Until next time. Travel safe.