So many of us confuse realizing our potential with the pursuit of perfection. The subtle difference between the two lies in our ability to know that we are already enough and that our motivation for growth is not symptomatic of a state of inadequacy.
While it is important for our well-being to have and achieve goals, it is just as important to view them as guideposts on our journey toward self-actualization as opposed to proof of what is missing and being sought as a result. The danger with goals is that we start to live for tomorrow as we believe that our lives won’t be better until we get that new certification, meet that perfect mate, have that sexy body, make more money, etc.
We must hold our goals loosely with a deep understanding that our progress toward them is icing on the cake rather than the cake itself. We are all born “enough”. As we grow up we learn not only to compare ourselves to others and see deficiencies but also to create meaning from life events that feed into our fear that we may not be good enough. Getting dumped for the beauty queen or homecoming king translates into “If I were only thinner and more attractive, then I would have my soulmate.”
The fear that we are not enough feels so real that we allow it to drive us and drive us and drive us. In this frenetic pursuit of better and more we cannot feel the peace and self-love that is our birthright. We operate from a perceived lack, which is not true but feels so real that we live in a state of insecurity and we second-guess ourselves.
Worse, we focus on achieving new heights instead of loving who we are, which is the only way to real peace. So our pursuit of perfection is a path straight to hell.
It is a journey where our ego works overtime to craft an outward appearance of not having imperfections. We try to control every aspect of what is controllable to create the illusion of perfection. And it is in that illusion that we suffer, that we do not accept who we really are, that we don't believe “that” is enough. It perpetuates the very suffering that pushes us forward towards more accomplishment.
According to Dr. Lisa Leit our “ego has us posture and defend instead of reveal and connect. Ego will not take us to the truest place of loving ourselves and others. Ego fears that showing others our weaknesses will make us vulnerable to attack, pain, or even death.” Yet it is only through this vulnerability that we can step into the arena of the pursuit of realizing our potential.
Still living with an awareness of when we are motivated by the pursuit of perfection versus the pursuit of potential can be a tricky matter. Sometimes our performance on the surface will look completely or nearly completely the same. For example, you may give a kick-ass presentation to your dream potential client. Externally your client may barely notice the difference, but imagine the joy of delivering that presentation while grounded and knowing you are worthy versus delivering it with a gnawing voice on your inside reminding you that your worth is defined by whether the potential client signs on and thus your experience of your value is controlled by external forces.
“Uncommon courage is called for in the heroic quest to become real. That said, the path doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might fear. Process, not perfection! This is a way to be ambitious and improve while staying gentle with ourselves. Embracing what is, celebrating your strengths, and seeking help to overcome limitations is very powerful.” Dr. Lisa Leit
Yet finding the balance between pursuit and acceptance is a tricky matter.