Great Requires Letting Go of Perfect

by | Jul 10, 2019

If you’ve done much reading from the most popular business books, or gotten the Cliffs Notes, you have probably read or heard someone say with great conviction “good is the enemy of great.” The premise is that when we engage in doing work that is good, investing our energy in what we think is good, there is a good chance we are settling when we should be stretching. To get to great, we have to be willing to be brutally honest with ourselves. We need to take risks and get out of our comfort zone. In effect, great requires letting go of perfect.

The Enemy of Great

So here is a thought for those of us who are perfectionists – and I admittedly am a recovering perfectionist. Perfection is the enemy of great. In fact, seeking to do things perfectly is a sure way to hold yourself back from being creative and innovative in ways that can lead to extraordinary results.

The Bible does tell us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. But that is not work we do in ourselves. It is the work God does in us as we submit to Him and His will for our lives. As we work out our salvation through obedience to God’s Word, God perfects us. He brings us into complete transformation into the image of Christ over time (2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 1:6). Our part is not to be perfect, but to abide in Him (John 15:5).

The Right Hemisphere

When we focus on getting things right or perfect we engage our left brain – the logical, reasoning, structured part of the brain – and really limit our creative thinking, if not suppress it altogether. But great things – extraordinary ideas, innovative solutions, forging new pathways – absolutely require right-brained thinking. Great requires vision, thinking outside of the box, applying old ideas in new ways and in new combinations. Great requires getting messy, which is far from perfect. Great requires striving to be all God created you to be.

Here’s another reason to consider saying goodbye to perfectionist thinking. No one wants to be a failure, right? But when you put pressure on yourself to do things perfectly each day, you are basically setting yourself up for failure – EVERY. DAY. Think about that. Perfectionists basically fail every day, because none of us is perfect. What kind of impact does that have on your self-image, your confidence, your resilience and readiness to take risks?

Quest for Success

If you’ve been suffering from perfectionism and want to experience true success, consider replacing your drive for perfection with a drive to reach your full potential.

  • Seek God first in your work (Matthew 6:33). Seeking God first through prayer and reading Scripture allows you to tap into the wisdom you need in such situations to leverage your ability to succeed. At least head in the right direction.
  • Meditate on who you are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are new creations in Christ and we have been made righteous. This is something that no amount of perfectionism could ever produce in us.
  • Strive to be all God created you to be (Ephesians 2:10). In Christ, we have the freedom to be who God created each of us to be and do the good works that He prepared ahead of time for each of us to do. As you tune into the vision God has for you and begin taking steps of faith, you can trust God to provide you with the resources you’ll need to accomplish more than you could have asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

True success is the result of being authentically you and using your God-given gifts to fulfill His purposes for your life. May you discover new found freedom and joy in your work as you pursue God’s version of great for you.

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Catherine Gates

Catherine Gates is Executive Director of Women in the Marketplace, a nonprofit marketplace ministry that equips working women to confidently pursue their faith and career for the glory of God. She is also the author of The Confidence Cornerstone: A Woman’s Guide to Fearless Leadership. Learn more at womeninmarketplace.net.