The Perfect Problem

By Peter Cronin | Thursday, December 10, 2015 | No Comments

Nobody’s perfect. Reading the headlines these days, that old adage rings truer than ever. And yet, with photoshopped images, autotuned pop songs, and countless, quick-fix, self-help manuals, our society continues to place the highest premium on the idea of perfection.

Despite the fact that it’s an unattainable goal, the constant craving for perfection creates its own special kind of anxiety, making any process – and any progress – more difficult. If you’re obsessed with getting step one absolutely spot-on perfect, you will never get to step two. The process stalls, because we tend to “freeze up” in an effort to never say the wrong thing.

Fact is, the most innovative, breakthrough ideas are often preceded by the phrase, “This may sound crazy, but….” Opening up to that kind of non-judgmental creative flow is far more effective in moving things forward than holding out for that perfect solution.

Psychotherapist Mel Schwartz calls it “unproductive perfection.” Writing in Psychology Today, Schwartz takes a dim view of the perfectionist.

“The only perfection is in being present, yet the perfectionist is never present,” Schwartz says. “They’re either busy critiquing the past and replaying their every decision or worrying about their future choices. Your time would be far better spent in delving into how to transcend the insecurity that catalyzed the desire for perfection in the first place.”

In conclusion, just to make my point (almost) perfectly clear, I’ll leave you with a quote from my songwriting friend Thomm Jutz. Having completed the particularly laborious recording of his latest masterpiece, he played me the finished track. When the song was over I said, “Thomm, that’s just about perfect.” He looked up from the computer screen and delivered the perfect reply: “It’s better than perfect…it’s done!”


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