Life Isn't a Game of Perfect

flow perfectionism Mar 12, 2019

One of the mental game classics for sport was a book written by Dr. Bob Rotella called 'Golf Is NOT A Game Of Perfect'. [1]

It was one of the first books that really helped me to understand that mistakes happen, when they do it's not a disaster, and it doesn't make you less worthy.

BUT... how you respond and recover from those mistakes matters. That's what illuminates your true character.

Sport reveals character

There's a great saying, "sport doesn't develop character, it reveals it".

It's easy to look strong when everything is going well, but not so easy when things are going wrong.

If we start to accept that there will be good times and there will be times that are trying, we can start to appreciate the good times more as the gifts they are, and understand that the times that are more trying are going to happen anyway ... so we may as well take the lessons that they offer, versus wishing our lives away for some future joy—simply because we are facing difficulties.

”Life isn't a game of perfect, and the expectation that it should be is what causes so much discontent." — Kathy Keats

Competent doesn't mean perfect

Particularly for women, this can be a difficult to embrace because women tend more towards perfectionism. I know this is a generalization, but women in particular tend to equate confidence with competence, so to feel more confident they try to build more competence.[2] Yet, even when highly accomplished, they still often feel like they aren't good enough.

You can be highly competent, and highly successful without being perfect.

The curse of competence

In any given performance, there will be moments that are less than perfect.

There is no perfect sporting competition, no perfect book, no perfect business.

As a matter of fact, the irony is the more accomplished you are, the more aware you are of what ISN'T perfect.

In fact, it's almost a curse. It causes you to lose your flow.

For example, a talented musician I knew with perfect pitch (the ability to hear exactly what note is being played in music) would often struggle to enjoy listening to music because he could hear every note or instrument that was slightly out of tune.

In dog agility, there is always a turn that could've been tighter or a cue given with better timing.

When writing the first draft of a novel or blog post, it's easy to get stuck trying to find the perfect word or phrase.

The important thing is to not let your mind stop on it and affect the other elements of the performance. You need to let it go and move on. Performance needs to be in the moment.

The time for analysis is after the performance.

"The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried." — Stephen McCranie

Your goal is to do your best

Promise yourself that every day you will choose to be grateful and take each thing in stride, do the best you possibly can, and make the best of every moment that is presented to you, regardless of it's in performance, work or at home.

Whether it is good or it is bad, the truth is...'this too shall pass'. And the truth is, in life, you usually have to slog through some gunk to get to the good stuff.

It's not all going to be perfect.

So don't hold back for fear of making mistakes.

Take some risks. Find the lessons. Live with gusto.

Enthusiasm for life is contagious. Not only will you go further faster, you'll inspire someone else to do the same.


[1] Golf Is NOT A Game Of Perfect by Dr. Bob Rotella

[2] The Confidence Code by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman

[Please note article may contain affiliate links.]


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