I’m not a perfectionist. I never finish jobs properly. This is not laziness, but efficient time management. I never complete a task 100% perfectly. I stop at 90%, or sometimes 70%, then move on to the next job. That means I complete more jobs. Does this bother you? It shouldn’t. It’s not necessary to complete jobs perfectly. To prove this, I won’t even bother to finish this …
… sentence. See? I just added that in case any of you felt anxious by my incompletion.
In addition to not being a perfectionist, I’m also not a Perfectionist. In other words, I don’t believe in the philosophical concept of Perfection.
Plato (or was it Aristotle? I don’t have time to look it up) believed that everything in the real world was an imperfect copy of a perfect form.
See this circle?
It’s not a perfect circle. It’s made out of dots on your computer screen. But Plato believed in perfect circles as a concept. What exactly is a perfect circle? A mathematician will tell you that it’s a shape where each point lies a fixed distance from the centre point.You could say that it can be characterized by a single parameter (its radius.)
But what about this shape?
Is this an imperfect circle? Or is it a perfect ellipse? An ellipse needs two parameters to fully characterize it. Does that make it less perfect than a circle?
What about this shape?
It looks like Mickey Mouse. But is it a perfect Mickey Mouse? Or perhaps a really imperfect circle?
The fact is that it’s a perfect instance of itself.
All this is fine and dandy, because Plato’s dead, and has been for a long time. But the trouble is that lots of people absorbed his ideas of Perfection and blended it with their own unhealthy ideas (of sin, guilt, good, evil and so on) to create a cocktail of horribleness. So now it’s not just circles that are imperfect, it’s human lives. The whole world is now imperfect.
Oh dear, this is a recipe for disaster. And that’s exactly what we see all around us.
So it’s time to put Plato back where he belongs, and to suck up all that nasty guilt and sinfulness and recycle it into something more productive.
Let’s scrap Perfectionism. Instead of regarding the world as broken, or an imperfect copy of some perfect ideal world that never existed, let’s accept the world as real. Let’s take it as we find it, and the same with the people we meet. Don’t think of them as broken or imperfect. Recognize that they are just like Mickey Mouse above – perfect copies of themselves, just as they should be.
Then we can move on and solve the next problem.