Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Controlling the Weed of Perfectionism

I just got back from a presentation. It went well but my perfectionist voice harps incessantly. Did that one participant need more time to grapple with an exercise? Should I have tried the roleplay together instead of letting them work separately? Since each group reacts to exercises uniquely, it is impossible to control outcomes. I’m glad I have high standards and seek to constantly tweak and improve my workshops. But it is also helpful to remember that true perfectionism can be damaging. It can cause us to procrastinate and it can rob us of enjoying our real achievements.

I am a lousy vegetable gardener. I’ve never been formally taught and since I don’t use pesticides, it is even harder to ensure a crop. But every year I learn more and every year my family enjoys fresh lettuce, broccoli, rapini, Swiss chard, peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, arugula, peppers, and (if I’m lucky and outwit the nasty squash vine borer) zucchini. My garden isn’t organized; sometimes the plants grow too close. Tomato plants have sprawled on the ground, propped up by a cockeyed collection of poles or milk crates. My focus on the vegetable beds can leave little time to weed and other areas of the yard look messy. But because gardening is a hobby that doesn’t trigger my perfectionism, I continue despite my (very obvious) mistakes and enjoy whatever the garden yields.

I continue to work to be a smarter, more productive gardener but I am also able to celebrate each delectable success.

How good are you at balancing the quest for high standards with allowing the flow of natural learning, mistakes, and life’s unpredictability?
© 2009 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

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