Content Writer: Sarah Udoh
PERFECTION: THE ENEMY OF PROGRESS
There was a boy who had learning difficulties and had to struggle academically and mentally through school because he thought he didn’t belong in the academical environment until he was fortunate to meet a teacher in a new class who showed him a different way to view education. The teacher promised to study with him for one hour every day if he showed up. The boy started developing an interest in his books because he found someone who was willing and dedicated to putting him through difficult concepts and subjects; the boy showed progress in his school work and ended up graduating top of his class with distinction in all his subjects.
The joy of every educator is to see positive progress in each student because progress essentially measures success in life and not perfection. Progress implies growth, continuous learning, improvement, bouncing back after setbacks or failures and focusing on being the best you might be. Perfection suggests avoiding failure or mistakes at all costs, worrying about criticism and chasing someone else’s idea of what you should be.
The perfection paradigm is one of the root causes of procrastination and fear of failure. According to Winston Churchill, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” We often hear people say they will try something new when they get to a certain position, but they never try to attempt what they want to do
In the progressive mindset, you take into consideration your potentials, strengths, interests and individuality. It can take the form of improvement from one day versus the next. This is useful. If you keep improving every day, you keep getting better. Failure is welcome (even if it is painful) because of the useful lesson and feedback it provides. It opens you up to new ideas or ways of doing things.
Regrettably, a lot of parents today relate with their children from a perfection paradigm by demanding unattainable and unrealistic perfection from them, predisposing these young ones to depression and other vices. Early signs of depression such as anxiety, insomnia, resentment, mood swings, eating disorders and relationship issues are already manifesting in several children because they are being pushed into unhealthy comparison and competition too early in their development.
Parents should rather push for excellence in their children. Excellence is about setting a high standard for yourself and focusing on achieving that high standard
While we should have high character and academic expectations for our children, we need to let them know we love them unconditionally and recognize and appreciate any steps of improvement they make along the way as this will help them develop healthy self-esteem, confide in and seek help from us and be able to deal with disappointments, failures, setbacks and other uncertainties of life later in their adulthood without falling into depression, suicide or crime.
History has many examples of famous people like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Ben Carson whose parents helped them to prioritize progress over perfection. In a world that is constantly changing and unpredictable, children need to cultivate the critical life skill of failing forward in order to enhance their adaptability and creativity rather than faking perfection.
Perfectionism stifles creativity and breeds procrastination, so perfection should never be the goal because the outcome will always be a failure.
Perfection is unattainable because no achievement is enough; progress is realistic, it can lead to excellence.