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HomeAll Articles Perfectionist? Meet the High Achiever by Valery Satterwhite

"Art knows no limit, and the artists will never achieve perfection." - Bente Borsum

Bente Borsum is a talented actress who performed with the Norwegian National Theatre and was a director of the Norwegian National Drama School. As a mentor and teacher, she works with younger artists who need professional expertise and encouragement. I found this quote, one of many; to be particularly profound because so many talented people hold themselves back from their work, their full creative expression in search of perfection.

There is a distinction to be made between a high achiever and a perfectionist. The former strives for excellence while the later accepts nothing less that the impossible perfection in themselves and their work. High achievers are motivated by their goal. They relish in the challenge and are energized by the quest.

The perfectionists, on the other hand, beat themselves up with criticism and failure in the unattainable goal of perfection. They hold onto their imperfections and wear them as badges of their shortcomings and failures. The perfectionist is often frozen in the fear of presenting anything less than perfect to the world, including his or herself.

This is a crime against humanity. When a person holds herself back, never finishes a creation because it never reaches perfection, the rest of the world is deprived of that creative expression. We see this not only in the art world, but in the broader perspective of all creations of mankind as well.

Pressure on children to achieve is rampant, because parents seek much of their status from the performance of their kids. The pressure is delivered in the form of criticism. Children often believe that in order to be loved they must be perfect, an impossible goal to reach. In order to be accepted in their industry, their work must be perfect. The pain of rejection is the pain of being un-loved, a fate to be avoided at all costs.

Perfectionists seek the unattainable perfection in them. In their failure to achieve perfection they withhold love of self. And hold back their creative expression and take it with them to the grave.

The perfectionist view of life is shaped by the irrational belief and expectation that rightness is perfection. Anything less than perfection is flat out wrong. In order to be good, there must be perfection. Anything not perfect is bad; the perfectionist is bad.

The inhibiting factor that keeps the perfectionist from making a commitment to change habitual, unproductive behavior is the constant fear of not making the change "good enough". In the quest to create anything, the perfectionist beats the drum of not good enough, wrong-ness, and unworthiness. As such, nothing is created, nothing is expressed other than more beating of the drum of imperfection.

The perfectionist is well served by noticing that much of what society calls great art is imperfect flawed in some way. The Statue of David's hand is too large, for example. Many artists deliberately insert a flaw in their work as a reminder that there is always room to enhance their creative potential. Perfection does not allow for further creativity - the death knell of the creative spirit.

Many of our daily enjoyments were invented by mistakes or by accident. The ice cream cone was invented when an ice cream vendor ran out of bowls. A fellow vendor, a waffle maker, gave him a waffle to roll up to hold the dripping ice cream. Post-it notes were invented because a 3M employee made an adhesive that was too weak. The ineffective adhesive was then repurposed when it was discovered that the weak glue worked wonderfully well when you wanted a temporary stick-able solution that could easily be removed without damage.

A wake-up call to the perfectionist would inspire the modeling the motivational energy of the high achiever. A new perspective and a new goal of excellence rather than perfection will revert the downward spiral of self-loathing and the procrastination that comes with it to and renewed zest and passion to create. Inspired innovation is renewed, creative ideas are turned into reality and the mankind and the world benefits in the richness and gifts of the human spirit.


Copyright (c) 2009 Valery Satterwhite

Valery Satterwhite is an Artist Mentor who specializes in empowering creative people in the visual & performing arts to create more profoundly, more productively, more passionately, and more profitably. Her unique "Inner Wizard" methodology to empower other creative people to express their full potential and the Wizard Within. Join now at http://www.InnerWizard.com . Get Free "Artist Resource/Marketing Directory" too!

Article Source: ArticleRich.com