Time to unclutter the mind: Redefine perfection

 In Motivation, Pressure, Winning & Losing

Many high-achieving athletes are celebrated for their capacity to achieve. Over time, it is not uncommon for their worth as a person to be contingent on those achievements. We feel inherently more lovable and worthwhile when we achieve. The risk is that when the achievements end, we feel less lovable and worthwhile, and thus crave PERFECTION.

It is important to separate your worth from your achievements. You are not inherently a better person because you achieved or less of a person if you did not.

Perfection

So many athletes and elite performers strive for perfection on a daily basis. When they are asked about whether there is such a thing as perfection, the answer is a resounding ‘no’ every time but they still strive for it. Hmmm… Why is that? The illusion of perfection is so intriguing and glamorous for sure but the real reason is because if we aren’t striving for perfection each day in every way we ‘aren’t good enough’ or people will ‘think less of us’. Challenge yourself. Is this really true?

Sometimes we get a taste of what we think is perfection and that potential leaves us wanting more. That brush with perfection makes us happy and excited and we don’t want to ever leave that space. We feel ‘good enough’ and others witness it and ‘think we are good enough’.

The quest

Dr. Michelle’s law of potentiality: you see glimmers of it and keep trying to find it (in other people & in things) but you never quite get there.

Trying to attain perfection will set you up for failure every time. Why? Perfection doesn’t exist but we still try to get it or find it but we don’t really know what ‘it’ is. It’s perplexing because one day perfection might be this and then it’s that. Some of it is based on what we think we need to do to be good enough and some of it is based on what we think we need to do to make others think we are good enough.

Anytime you use others as an indicator of what you think you need to do you are in trouble. You never really know what others want from you even when you ask and they change their mind as much as you do. It’s complex, isn’t it?

Also when your worth is tied to your ability to achieve, the more fearful of failure you become.
Not only is competition a test of sports skill, it is also a test of your worth as a person. This raises the stakes and elevates the fear of failure. You become motivated to avoid failure and mistakes. You also become unwilling to ask for help because it’s seen as an admission of incompetence.

Unclutter your mind and redefine perfection

It’s time to give “you” a break and redefine perfection. Change the definition so you can improve: Get up every day and do the best you can but don’t kill yourself to make it happen. Reflect on the things you have going on and ask yourself, what’s realistic. Set a realistic goal and realistic process goals for attaining it. And then, be present in the process.

And let mistakes happen. Don’t get stuck in the outcome – Don’t think about winning! Be in the moment, enjoy the moment!

Dr. Michelle Cleere
In her own private practice as an elite performance expert, Dr. Michelle Cleere helps top athletes, musicians, and executives in competitive fields unlock the power of the mind and create the mental toughness to be the best. Dr. Michelle’s extensive academic background, which includes a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Sports Psychology, allows her to help clients deal with performance anxiety, gain more confidence, and build resilience. In addition to personal coaching, Dr. Michelle takes on many roles – a best-selling author, athlete, and teacher. Dr. Michelle’s bestseller line, Beating the Demons, helps clients develop practical skills to gain more control over competitive environments and mitigate the interruption in play to overcome intense odds and defeat adversity. As a 15-year USAT Coach, she developed simple and effective tools to mentally train her athletes, and they are used by coaches around the world. She is a professor at John F. Kennedy University where she teacher her students to use the mind as an ally to improve performance.
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