I was recently at my daughters drama class and the teacher was talking us through how they put a play together in a the 1 hour lesson that she has every week, she (the teacher) was a very animated character and dare I say exactly what I would have pictured a drama teacher to be, very pronounced without shouting and very keen on the detail of instruction she was giving, her opening line when we all arrived was that she wanted to show the parents of the attendees what it was that they do there and how they form a lesson and the goals they are trying to achieve when they do, one of the things that she said during this speech got me thinking and I wanted to share my thoughts in case anybody wished to share their view.
“It is not about being perfect or even getting the words right all the time it is about doing and learning as they go, there is so much talk about being the best version of yourself these days and always striving to be perfect that people especially children must be exhausted”
I have extolled the virtues of striving for perfection on many an occasion and it is only now that I started to think that pushing for perfection is not only futile in occasions where the result is forced to be a product of collaboration but sometimes so tiring that it becomes a very draining ethos, which could potentially be destructive, and ultimately subverting our goals as we struggle to achieve them through the brain fog of exhaustion.
Now, anybody who has read anything I have done will be familiar with the fact that I like to have proof of something before I will adopt or attempt to pass it on as information to others, and this is no exception, I watched in wonder as this teacher, without raising her voice to a shout moved 15 children aged between 6 and 12 through this play that they had seen for the first time that night, and after just 45 minutes, we had a 10 minute play where I would say 85% of timings were correct and dialogue was remembered, the children had started to add complimentary movement to their parts and had started to extend their lines all within context, it was astounding to see all these different personalities working together and learning through enjoyment.
I am not saying that there is not a place for perfection and striving to be the best, merely that we need to recognise that moment of fatigue in all of us and act on it, lighten up a bit and realise that forced progress is sometimes slower and always a lot harder than relaxed progress, Bruce Lee was famous for the 1 inch punch and always taught pupils to relax the muscles of the hand and arm while punching as a tight clenched fist cannot travel as fast as a relaxed one, he was right and this was proved in many demonstrations the same can be said for the mind, a stressed “tight” mind will never learn as quickly as a relaxed one that is open and has time to spare.
I guess what I saw was not really the play about the Russian Cave that was being performed but rather that changing from the intense method of corrective education i.e. “that was wrong” or “do it again you weren’t on time” to a more lead form where the word wrong was never used, not even once despite some initial lines being quoted wrong and a couple of missed cue’s, was that when we are all relaxed we learn quicker, we retain more information and with a greater accuracy, so I guess what I am saying is if you are struggling with a subject or a method, be it academic or entrepreneurial then instead of beating yourself up and getting stressed, essentially blocking your own progress you should stop, take a deep breath (or two depending on how stressed you are) and look at what you are doing for what it is, try and find the enjoyment in your activity, and do not berate yourself for making mistakes, every fortune and large company was built on a foundation of error, that is how we learn, approach new concepts or technical challenges as an opportunity to a burden and you will see that as cortisol levels drop your whole mental state will become less toxic and you will move along at a faster pace than you ever thought possible.