Practice makes perfect. Where have you heard that in your life, and what has it done for you?
The only thing perfection gets you is a harder fall when you’re knocked from your pedestal. Who wants that?
I was a competitive gymnast when I was younger and our motto was even more daunting. We were taught that practice did not make perfect. No, in fact, it was perfect practice that made perfect. Whoa!! What a thing to instill in a 10 year-old. What did this mean to my 10 year-old self? I can’t make a mistake in practice. If it’s not perfect is it not even good. I’ll never be good enough if I’m not perfect always.
And it stuck throughout my life. Every time since then, when I’ve heard someone say, “practice makes perfect”, I respond with, “No it doesn’t, perfect practice makes perfect.”
Only through my work with my clients did I truly come to see what these ‘sayings’ really teach us.
Sure, when we strip it down we are being taught hard work, determination, and dedication; three traits I value highly. But we are also taught that perfection equals success, that not being perfect is bad, and maybe, that there is no point in doing something if it’s not going to be perfect.
I guess the real problem is that there are so many other necessary lessons that need to part of this equation that never are. Which leads back to my clients, no matter what level they are at: top athlete, beginning runner, fitness enthusiast almost everyone is looking to lose weight, change body composition, and feel better in their body. The methods to do this are easy to learn, everyone understands them within a few weeks. The problem is breaking through the perfection paradigm that exists for them.
In everything that we have ever been successful at we have had to go through a cycle of learning, trying, setbacks, and getting help, before we had the success we set out to achieve. Depending on the activity the cycle might have been shorter or longer, but it still existed. Whether learning subjects in school, a new sport, a new language, playing an instrument, taking a new job, changing careers, becoming a parent, caring for a sick parent, we see this cycle. And during the cycle comes the lessons that we would not have succeeded without. Let me repeat, during the cycle of trying and having setbacks come the learnings about ourselves that allow us to break through and keep moving forward in progress.
It’s no different when making changes to your nutrition, but time and again we give ourselves a hard time when we don’t have a “perfect” day, or we decide that if I can’t always be “good”, I might as well always be “bad”. Or we want to change it all in one week from one extreme to the next and expect that it should be easy. And with a snap of your fingers it will stay that way forever.
Are you able to go from couch to marathon in one week? Analyst to CEO in one week? First grade to college in one week?
Why are we so afraid to make a mistake, fail, or not be perfect? You now know where mine came from. I want to know about yours.
It is time to shift our motto and practice making progress. If this is something you struggle with, focus on changing one thing at a time. Notice where you are now versus where you were last week and celebrate for the changes you have made. Every celebration takes you one step closer to your goal. You will be amazed at where you will go when you practice making progress.
It’s harder to find your footing again when you’re lying in the rubble of your perfect pedestal.