"I’m a perfectionist, so I can drive myself mad – and other people, too.
At the same time, I think that’s one of the reasons I’m successful."
I posted the Dali quote on social media the other day, only because I liked it and felt it was inspirational for the day.
I was basically giving a shoutout to my Insta and Twitter followers saying,
'Hey! It's okay not to be perfect.
Don't sweat it!'
So, I was flicking through my Insta account last night and saw this post again and it got me thinking about perfectionism, in specific relation to the creatives.
I jumped on the web to grab the precise definition.
and here is what Merriam-Webster had to say...
1] The doctrine that the perfection of moral character constitutes a person's highest
2] the theological doctrine that a state of freedom from sin is attainable on earth
3] a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable
In my opinion, I would say it is generally agreed upon, that perfectionism possesses both positive and negative traits.
In its adaptive form, perfectionism can provide the diligence which leads to great achievement.
In its maladaptive form, people often lapse into depression when their goals are not attained.
I'm sure each person's idea of what they deem perfect is subjective.
My idea of perfect is probably not the same as your perfect.
This in turn makes me wonder...
How on earth does the perfectionist make an informed decision, as to whether 'their' result is perfect, as opposed to others'.
Do they see what they have created, after days, weeks & months, as only ever 'okay'?
Therefore, feeling the need to remain dedicated and committed to achieving the ideal standard.
Take for example -
the still life artist, who paints landscapes.
She is a perfectionist.
Mike, the impressionist, who also paints scapes and is not a perfectionist
What would Sarah think of Mike, who only paints impressions of the same genres.
So, in my little world, I call them up, and quite agreeably they decide to play along with my little psychological experiment.
I drive for an hour to one of my favourite spots.
I place them both before a beautiful pond filled with lilies.
From a global perspective, they both see a clear pond with white lilies.
However, on a closer inspection, they both notice a few lilies have small, brown spots upon their leaves, and the pond is pocked here and there with some murkiness.
Now Mike is a well respected, revered Impressionist artist, who has many paintings on display in galleries.
He obviously paints an impression of the pond and lilies.
A global impression.
I have a look at his painting and am awe struck at its beauty and the way he has so eloquently captured the feel of this scene.
Remembering, he is not just adored by me, but also by the masses.
Sarah, is an equally revered still life artist, who only has a handful of paintings to her name. They are still on display in a respected art gallery.
Sitting there, watching her, she is attempting to capture every intricate detail.
The blemishes on the lilies, the murkiness in the pond.
Exclaiming delight at such a beautiful scene and thanking me for taking her there.
I have two happy chappies.
All that I am concerned about, is that both artists are able to paint the scene and comfortably set their brushes down, with a feeling of genuine content in what they have rendered for that day.
So, Mike is finished and we decide to spend the rest of the afternoon just chilling - listening to the birds, drinking iced tea and reading.
This gives Sarah plenty of time to finish the painting.
Afternoon, turns into early evening, which turns into night.
I have been regularly checking in to see how Sarah is progressing with the painting.
She has captured every detail, every leaf, every ripple, every blemish.
However, she states, 'it is not finished'.
She does agree there are no other details to be added, but she doesn't feel it is 'right'.
Begrudgingly, Sarah packs up and heads back home with us.
In the car, I ask Mike if he will place his latest painting up for sale.
Immediately, he responds with an excited 'Yes!'.
I ask Sarah and she states, 'Oh no!! I will banish it to the corner of my studio until I get it right.'
Mike replies with 'Didn't you like the scene we painted Sarah?'
'Oh no, it's not that! It's just that...
well, it wasn't perfect.
I want my painting to be perfect!'
'So, what did you think of my impression of the pond, that didn't capture every intricate detail to perfection?'
'I loved yours Mike. It was brilliant!'
'Well then Sarah, you have lost sight of two simple details.
On a personal level, you were still able to find my impressionist view perfect.
You, also did exclaim that you found the lilies and the pond absolutely breathtaking.
You found every blemish on the lilies and every bit of murkiness in the pond to be perfect.
So, how is it, that you found all those faults to be perfect.
You captured every single imperfect, yet perfect detail, yet you are dissatisfied that your painting is still not right?'
Sarah bows her head.
Take home message to my fellow creatives -
Be content in what you create.
that what you often regard as perfect,
may very well be,
the imperfect perfection that you admire.