Death by Perfection

It is not inadequacy that is my enemy, it is my belief that I should be above inadequacy.

Perfectionism is the enemy of art.

On a few summer afternoons, my father and I painted on the porch of the Big House. We’d just come back from painting classes in Burlington, Vermont and we could experiment with new techniques.

The feeling of a paintbrush in my fingers thrills me, but my paintings? Not so much.

I fail to make art or share it, because I know it’s not perfect. Not yet. I do not want to expose myself to other’s criticism or hear their good and helpful ideas.

I think I must throw it all out there, acknowledge my work is a work in progress. As is my life.

I remember this slogan from a 12-step meeting, “high perfectionism, low productivity; low perfectionism, high productivity.” If my work is good enough and done, that is far better than perfect and never done.

Getting Confident


Having to attend to one another emotionally is draining. And we need to energize one another. Those who drain us won’t be part of the team again. That’s why I’m trying to stay confident at work.

Two-way streets are tough for those of us who travel only one way — alone. We have to excel collectively and let go of our perfectionist and insecure tendencies for the good of the team. There’s beauty in teamwork, especially when we have confident players.

Good Enough

Perfect is the enemy of Art. Perfect stands like a little vampire on my shoulder, pointy pen and pointy teeth, waiting to pounce.

Perfect plots revenge on Creativity. She gathers her posse – Self Doubt, Superiority, Righteous.

Ah, but Creativity drags her friends from their hang out at the coffee shop. Creativity’s two good pals are Art and Good Enough. Good Enough is tall, although she has a limp. She brings her sister, the one with the lovable shrug. Her name? Whatevs.

Tensions mount.

Perfect squares off against Creativity, like the Sharks and Jets of West Side Story. They are ready to rumble in an abandoned schoolyard. The Righteous goad Perfect. They are going for blood.

But Good Enough and her friends can’t take it any more. They begin to giggle. There is nothing Perfect hates more than giggles. It is like a pail of water on the Wicked Witch. Giggles melt Perfect. Giggles are contagious.

The girls all get silly. They all fall down. They stay out all night, playing hopscotch, jumprope and basketball. They all become friends.

These are the warring factions within me: Perfect, Righteous, Self Doubt and Superiority against Creativity, Good Enough, Whatevs and Art.

Who are your rumbling righteous? Who are your creative conquerors? Whose side are you on?

How does your creative self make your perfectionist side giggle?