Perfection and compassion

Perfection is rare. It may also be overrated.

The pursuit of perfection can be useful, if it is accompanied by compassion.

Striving for better can create a lot of value but berating ourselves and others when we don’t succeed isn’t likely to keep us doing our best work in the longer term.

The disruption and chaos of 2020 has reminded us that our well-intentioned plans shouldn’t be used as weapons against us when unexpected circumstances arise. Better to focus on our strengths and respond to a changed situation with whatever resources we can muster.

Comparison with others tends to drain us of compassion. When we attempt to assign others to places in a hierarchy, it starts a process of dehumanising which is rarely helpful.

In times like these, you may find yourself wondering how a colleague or competitor can be so productive or polished or outwardly successful. Others may well be wondering that about you. Remember, though, that having your shit together is a transient state.

So as we ebb and flow between nailing it and struggling, what matters most is our overall trajectory. Are we moving in the direction that aligns with our values? Are we giving ourselves the best chance we can by being compassionate, not only to others but also to ourselves?

Compassion opens us to whatever is in front of us and is a form of antidote to indifference and inaction. In this turbulent time, it’s more relevant than perfection.


This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.