Perfection is a strange word. On one hand it seems like a desirable destination and on the other it is a holy grail that tortures us from afar.
For people who work in a job that requires lots of creativity, the climb up the mountain can seem overwhelming. Whether it’s writing, videography, drawing or podcasting, the amount of possibilities that exist within these realms is endless. There is no one correct way to draw a picture, tell a story, sing a song or make a movie. However, there are a handful of ways that masters of the arts have set a precedent by captivating audiences in their work.
For beginners, the bar may be Martin Scorsese, Joe Rogan, J.K. Rowling or Brad Pitt. There are so many people out in the world who have a knack for creativity but are drawn away from trying because of their idols they see far above them on the mountaintop. In the real world, people need to eat, a roof over their head and clothes. Taking the leap of faith to enter into a creative career is so scary and the only way that it seems possible to achieve great heights is one word:
Now you may be thinking, “Well genius, perfection is not very attainable so how do people at the top even get there if they aren’t perfect?” Well that’s where the paradox happens. The way that creative people find success is and is not because of perfection. There is a popular quote that says, “Every expert was once a beginner”. This is usually found on posters in schools with children wearing a sports uniform and looking on to a field, court or ice rink.
The logical sequence of events that follows is that beginners eventually work their way to become experts. That is an extreme generalization and there are so many factors along the way that come into play. In terms of athletes, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Serena Williams have dominated their sports very handily. While their individual greatness might not be replicated, people can always strive to catch up or in rare cases, eclipse them.
But in the world of creative arts, there is far more subjectivity that exists than scoring points, winning golf tournaments and conquering the ATP world tour. There are no physical requirements to enter and most of the work is mental. So then how does this tie into perfection?
People are told growing up that if you want to improve, practice makes perfect. Then along the way someone corrects them by saying that perfect practice makes perfect. So then you try as hard as you can to practice perfectly but often times feel that what you are doing is not good enough. It is because the state of perfection that is still out there that many people solider on in hopes of catching it. Most times, people fail.
However, that is not the end of the story. As people continue to chase perfection, they may gradually improve their craft and use the power of compound interest in their work to develop mastery skills. Over time, these people may start to realize that while they have not achieved perfection, they feel closer and closer. Eventually when they stop to look back, they see a small cluster of dots down below that represents people who have not taken the first step forward.
All the while of chasing perfection and being unsuccessful, they have climbed to unforeseen heights. Then there comes the epiphany of why perfection is a paradox. It is almost never achievable outright, and yet it is the driving force for so many people’s greatness. Perfection seems so far away and there is lots of failure along the way. But it is still out there, waiting to be reached.
At the end of the day, your creative work may not be perfect. You might be closer or farther than others, and its achievement can continue to drive you forward to become great. More importantly, do not forget the most crucial and simple step of this whole journey: