Progress Not Perfection

I’d like to dedicate this to Dr. Patricia Verrone from Caldwell University.  Thank you for being such an instrumental part of my life, both in the classroom and beyond.

In my clinical training, as a therapist, we’re taught how to do what we do seamlessly.  After all, people are coming to us “the experts” for help because we “know it all” and “we know how to fix your problem.”

As I’m writing, I realize that the therapeutic profession, while beautiful and well intentioned, only hindered my emotional growth because I had to “be perfect” for my patients.  I have to look impeccably professional. Hair – check, makeup – check, perfect shade of blush silk shirt that’s soft & airy – check, unwrinkled & dry cleaned – check, not see through – check, perfect black pencil skirt – check, past knee length – check, listen, respond, don’t share personal life – check.  Oh my God! talk about pressure and so unrealistic!

Since my childhood, I’ve always strived and poured all of my energy to overachieve.  And as a result…there has never ever been anything in my entire life that I wanted that I have not attained. I’m the overachiever of overachievers.  I started 2nd grade at 5 years old, I graduated high school at 17 with honors, I was on my own at 17 in college with a full tuition scholarship, graduated with honors from college while finishing a semester early, received a scholarship at my prestigious alma mater, the list goes on. 

Everything had to be perfect… my grades had to be perfect, my assignments were completed before they were due (they were months early).  There were even times in college that I submitted papers to my favorite English professor, who was real and raw and offered us the opportunity for constant feedback.  There was a paper that I probably wrote, and resubmitted (poor woman), about 10 times (I’m not exaggerating). 

I wanted that PERFECT grade, and the more I worked on it, the more my grade improved, until I decided that it was as good as I could possibly make it, and it was, I earned my A+. 

It wasn’t until this very moment, that I realized her strategy wasn’t about perfection, her strategy was about progress and skill.  The more I attempted to “perfect” the paper, the more I was learning.  It was actually genius of her. 

The message I want to relay to you, is that if you try to be perfect, which is completely impossible and unsustainable, you’re never going to start. 

In life, in entrepreneurship, in relationships, you’re going to make mistakes.  Things are going to get ugly. You’re not going to look your best, you’re not going to be smooth in your emails, you’re not going to create the perfect online course the first time around, you’re not going to always catch the typo in the post you made.  You’re going to reread and rewrite things and you’re still going to make mistakes. It’s called being human!

So, as you’re reading this I can guarantee that there has to be at least 10 things in your life that you haven’t even attempted because you’re so scared you’ll fail.  You haven’t started because you want to do it the RIGHT WAY…the PERFECT WAY.  If you continue on this path, it’s never going to get done. 

I want you to repeat after me “PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION.”

I want you to make this your new mantra.  Say it to yourself all day, stand in front of the mirror, make it your new cellphone wallpaper, set an alarm, put a “post – it” on your bathroom mirror. 

Ironically, I also remember another day at that same faithful University,  there was a flyer inside of a bathroom stall in the dorms that said, “ I know I’m not junk, because God made me, and he don’t make no junk.”

My point being is you’re not perfect, you are “perfectly imperfect.”   You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to fall, you’re going to fail.  The difference between someone who is successful and someone who fails, is resilience. It’s what you do after you fall that makes all the difference in the world. So, I challenge you to take the leap in whatever it is that you haven’t done because you’re waiting to be perfect.

You know how I love my challenges, and I don’t disappoint so I have one for you today.

I want you to make the most “perfectly imperfect”  attempt at that effort. And whether you feel like you failed or you succeed… without a doubt what you have done is GROWN!

Just like that (wink).

XoXo Jan

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