Perfectionism, it ain’t all that.

Perfectionism, it ain’t all that.

“Fear is just perfectionism in really good shoes.” A quote from Elizabeth Gilbert I read the other day. That’s exactly what it is. When we have job interviews we mention it as ‘a bad habit’ secretly hoping and knowing that the interviewer sees it as something positive. It means you do your best and strive for the very very best. Right?

We as doctors are trained and wish to deliver perfect service to our patients. To be complete, to not miss a thing. When things are incomplete and important elements are missing, you are being looked down upon, if not, punished, if only by non-verbal judgement, regarded as something negative. You might wonder – so what else is there? Should doctors, people in general completely let go of perfectionism? Make mistakes and not care?

‘The opposite of perfectionism is a healthy centeredness in authentic action.’

I have known perfectionism a little too well to know it does no good. Here are three misconceptions I used to have and have shifted my consciousness about what performance and personal success means.

Misconception #1
The opposite of perfectionism is not negligence. The opposite of perfectionism is not incompleteness. Or substandard performance. Or out-of-control-letting-happen-whatever-happens-when-you-don’t-do-anything. No. The opposite of perfectionism in my eyes is a healthy centeredness in authentic action. Knowing what the situation truly needs and delivering that in wholeness. Not endlessly acting out of a fear to miss, but taking the moment as it is and acting from an intention to be of service and knowing that that’s enough.

Misconception #2
Perfectionism doesn’t help us strive or dream. It keep us from striving and dreaming. How often do we make revolutionaries into saints. Think they are perfect and faultless. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs – no matter how great their legacies were, they had dark sides as well. By putting these legendaries on pedestals we distance our potential from theirs, and think less of ourselves. Who am I to bring change?

You are a whole human being with good and bad, just like them. Having a darker side doesn’t make your good deeds less bright, it makes them even more luminous and valuable. In fact, good things cannot exist without bad things. They enable each other into existence and so they do within us. Only when we embrace these polarities within ourselves can we rise above them choose what we consciously want to bring forth – only then can we really strive & manifest what we dream of.

Misconception #3
Perfectionism doesn’t make you feel perfect, it makes you feel inadequate. It doesn’t liberate, it imprisons. It promises an end result that cannot beat the result that comes from a conscious attitude of being enough and with that tapping into your abundant source of creativity that can really move mountains. Perfectionism bypasses those stepping stones that we use to grow. It keeps us from truly being in the game and let ourselves be transformed by our experiences.

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About the blogger: 
Based in London, Hanaâ Benjeddi is a medical doctor and a public healthcare enthusiast. She is passionate about improving global child health through sustainable development. Hanaâ co-founded Humans of Health, a youth-led movement in healthcare sustainability. Discovering ways in which we as millennials can make the world around us a better place brings her great joy. “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman