Monday, December 2, 2013

Thinking About Perfection and Practice

ella in the field
"Well, that sounds like courage" she said.
I remember when I first heard "it's yoga practice not yoga perfect."

It was such a revelation. It was releasing and demanding all at the same time.

It meant I could release the need to for perfection but I couldn't release being present. It meant that I might not be able to get into the pose and perfectly mimic the teacher but I could use each second to stay with my breath and be present with all of my attention.

I think that for many the drive for perfection is just a manifestation of the fear of criticism. Ironically perfection is no cure for criticism or the fear of criticism.

There is a misplaced drived for perfection as opposed to excellence. I do think that the quest for perfection has probably stopped more people in their tracks than any opposition they might find externally. When the goal is perfection there is a lot of work up and worry and very little launch.

I used to teach braille transcription. It's very detailed work and there are a lot of mistakes in the beginning. Many people loose their gumption around lesson 6 or 7 and it's because they feel they can't do the lessons perfectly.  I taught in a wide variety of settings from colleges, church basements and even prison and this was true with those with PhDs and those just earning their GEDs. Their likelihood of finishing the 20 lessons and completing their Library of Congress manuscript was solely their ability to not allow mistakes to discourage them.

I would post a sign:

It's far more important to be resilient than to be perfect.

One day Ella saw me packing my equipment up to teach and she asked what "resilient" meant. I said that it means "you continue to try with the same amount of enthusiasm."

The little 7 year old Ella turned to me and confidently said, "Well, that sounds like courage."

Yes, yes it does.