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  • Kelly Burns

The Perfection Paradigm (Who Is Allowed To Fail?)


Craig Lovelidge@_craigology Unsplash

Do you live in a world where you strive to be perfect?


Maybe you have waited a bit too long to post your last medium post, as you didn’t feel it was ready yet. Perhaps you wanted to run it by a few people to make sure the grammar was correct, or maybe you were worried about run-on sentences.


I invite you to publish anyway.


It seems as though the world is stuck in a perfectionism paradigm.

Sometimes it seems we are not allowed to be human, and if you do fail, the consequences are catastrophic.


Many of the world’s greatest thinkers have written about how failure was the key to their success.


I find it amusing that even though this has been written about by many powerful people, we still seem to live in a world where it is totally unacceptable to fail.


If failure was the goal, we could reframe what it means to fail.


Imagine getting hired at a new company and your new boss says;

“Your job is to fail as much as possible so we can really win, got it?”


Can you imagine what it might be like working at a company that made room for this?


Can you imagine being hired at a job simply because a hiring manager was worried you might fail in the role, but hired you anyway?


Unfortunately, we do not live in this kind of world.


Our deeds are chronicled and remembered, for good or ill.


The elephant is not the only one with a long memory.

Every boss you have ever worked for can chime in on what is possible for you in the future, based on who you were in the past.


What if that is not who you are right now, and you are only being judged by a very narrow and outdated viewpoint?


Computer systems become outdated, smart phones become outdated, but job referrals from previous employers, even if they are years old, are still given air time and are weighed heavily with regards to who you might become at the office, which impacts who you will become in the future at any organization.


In every corner of America you can hear the subtle whisper that it’s not okay to not be perfect at what you do. You are not allowed to not be perfect in every interaction with others.

Maybe our only job is to learn how to be great human beings. (This might include forgiveness for ourselves and others).


No one said that after you graduate college, you are not allowed to fail anymore. Kids are allowed to fail, high school teens are allowed to fail, but somehow, when you become an adult, you can no longer fail.


This is a falsehood.


On Losing:


Perceived and Unrealistic Losses


· I’ll never be able to show my face again to my community.


· I will be an outcast.


· I will die.


· I will never get a job again if I publish this post.


· My friends and family will gossip about me.


Perceived and Real Losses (Reframed)


· The people in the community who are not attracted to me as a writer will distance themselves from me and my writing, and the people who are inspired by it will be more supportive.


· I will gravitate toward and meet my tribe.


· A part of my old life will die. I welcome this new career path I have chosen.


· I will have a hard time getting a job in the professions I don’t want to work in, and will naturally gravitate to the fields where I feel I am being called (This is good!).


· People will always talk, but mostly, they are so busy with their own lives and I am not even on their radar. If they do talk, I will try on this context:


It takes more energy to complain about others, than it does to be happy and be responsible for changing my own life’s circumstances.
Jordan Bauer@jordanbauer Unsplash

Some of the best bosses I have had have been perfectionists. They are exciting because they do their jobs well, but they can sometimes suck the air out of a room for the same reason.


We have all heard the old saying that you would not want a surgeon working on you who was not an “A” student, or who was not a perfectionist in surgery, but isn’t there a happy medium?


If doctors, teachers, and mentors were allowed to daydream, they could get in touch with the uniqueness they bring to the world and relieve the pressure of having to be “On” all of the time. We would meet at a place of awareness. A conscious place of well-being.


Imagine a world where doctors were allowed to daydream. Stockbrokers, scientists, CEO’s, teachers, all allowed to take “Day Dream Breaks.”


Maybe we also need to employ “Failure Quotas.” Imagine if your boss asked you;

“How much did you fail today, and what did you learn?”


This would change the face of work.


I have been fired from jobs and it has directed me to a better place. It gave me a deeper understanding of who I am and what I am committed to.


If I allow myself to fail, and if we allow others to fail, we can take on a new understanding and empathy for life and for human beings.


I leave you with this question:


Is the “Perfection Paradigm” killing us or making us better?
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