Growing up we’ve all heard the expression “practice makes perfect” every time we inevitably screwed something up. It didn’t matter if it was baseball, music, math or reading…whatever subject, sport or activity you happened to suck at during that stage of your life, it was our parents obligation as life-givers to pat us on the head and enthusiastically mutter “practice makes perfect!”
But is that really true? Does practice really make perfect? What happens if you practice something over and over again but you practice it wrong? Still perfect? I don’t think so. Now you are stuck having to unlearn something which is actually harder than learning it right in the first place. Case in point, I am a 39 year old adult male and STILL can’t spell the word definitely (thank you again spell check!) I’m sorry, but I’m calling your 3rd grade music teacher to the carpet on this whole “practice makes perfect” conspiracy.
There is also another expression floating around out there which I believe originated with Vince Lombardi that went something to the effect of “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” OK, so that one theoretically makes a little more sense, but something to live by? I’m not so sure. Far be it from me to challenge the great football coach, but I’m calling him out on this one as well.
How can anything be perfect? How do you practice something “perfectly” over and over again until you get it “perfect?” Life just doesn’t work that way. I have done some really amazing things in my lifetime so far, but none of them have ever been perfect. There is always something that can be improved somehow. That’s what makes life so interesting. You are constantly striving to be the best version of yourself where “perfect” seems like it’s within reach, although you can never quite get there. That’s how it’s supposed to work. “Perfect” was never the intended goal.
If perfection was the goal, we may never have heard of Led Zeppelin or The Beatles. If you were to ask Vincent van Gogh if each of his paintings were perfect do you think the answer would be yes? Assuming that he could hear you of course…best to speak to him on the side that still has an ear if you want an answer. If Facebook was the perfect social network why would they keep changing it all the damn time? What I’m getting at is that those at the top of their game were not concerned about being perfect and neither should you.
Perfect is unattainable. Nothing will ever be perfect. And that’s OK! The sooner you can get it through your head the better because sometimes what is holding you back from being truly great is your obsession with being perfect.