The Mythical Pursuit of Perfection

History is littered with stories of individuals who have made dumb mistakes.  Massive mistakes even.

Exxon Valdez.  Watergate.  The Titanic.  These modern blunders are all too familiar in the public consciousness.

And despite the infamy (and irresponsibility) of these gaffes, making mistakes is one of the ways we learn best.

A few years back,

I read a book, Imagine, by Jonah Lehrer.  I’d previously read some of Lehrer’s work, so I was looking forward to his new book.  Imagine was enjoyable enough, and there were some, seemingly, new ideas worth considering.

Not long after being published though, Lehrer’s work was questioned.  Allegations spread that he had “self-plagiarized.”  He had re-hashed work of his own previously published elsewhere.  Journalists reached out to Lehrer and he maintained his innocence.

Not long after, his story began to unravel.  Lehrer was presented with irrefutable evidence that he had committed multiple instances of plagiarism.  He was humiliated.  His career in utter tumult.

But it wasn’t so much that Lehrer committed an unforgivable mistake which derailed his career.  It had much more to do with this insistence that he did no wrong…despite the fact that he knew better.

To this day, Lehrer has not rebuilt his reputation.  I hope he will at some point.  Everyone’s life is capable of restoration.  Worthy of redeeming.

Public outrage over an unwillingness to admit a mistake > than public outrage over a mistake.

For some reason, we have a tendency to overvalue others’ appetite for perfection while undervaluing their willingness to forgive.

Admitting wrong doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.  And humans identify with other humans much better than they identify with perfection.

Author, Donald Miller, says that every morning people wake up as the hero in their own story.  I’m the hero in my story, and you’re the hero in your story.

People aren’t looking for hero’s; they’re looking for guides.

Someone who knows the way.  And the only way to know the way is to have already learned where NOT to go.  To have turned left instead of right.  To have gone north instead of south.  To have made mistakes and learned from those mistakes.

Perfection-based facades don’t help anyone else.  They only damage the one putting on the act.

In truth, the root stems from pride.  Pride is the archenemy of humility.  And without humility we struggle to connect.  To forge meaningful relationships.  To accomplish much worth anything at all.

So drop the act.  Be you.  Be okay with mistake-making.

We’re waiting for you….

Tim

Twitter: @Tim_G_Holland

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