This very excellent quote comes from the friend mentioned in my last post, who wondered why she shouldn’t strive for perfection. She and a friend of hers came up with the above saying, which she posted over her desk.
This friend struggles with procrastination, a common symptom of perfectionism. And so she is having to learn to let go of her fear of falling short of perfect and to trust her own talent, which is prodigious.
Like the previously discussed Voltaire quote, you could interpret this quote as aspiring to mediocrity, eh…good enough is good enough. And if you’re a lazybones (and you know who you are) then maybe it is aiming low.
But genuine half-assery tells eventually. I am assuming you are hard working and have high standards for yourself.
This quote is especially potent for those of us who have been doing our thing for a while now, who have had enough time and success at our art or craft or profession to have a sense of our own ability. If you have succeeded thus far, what are the chances you will suddenly fail? Pretty low. You might stumble, you might suffer a setback, but you are unlikely to come crashing down.
It reminds me of another quote from another friend, whose problem is not procrastination but anxiety. The way she would describe it, she suffered every time she sat down to work. But she finally started telling herself to, “Just get up every day and do what you do.”
I love that, too. Suffering fear of failure every time you get to work doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you have failed frequently. In that case, you probably need to up your game somehow.
But if you have been generally successful, and only torture yourself because you have invented a fantasy of success or perfection—or of failure and inadequacy—then both these quotes are for you. At some point, you have to start trusting your own capabilities. When you do, work might become joyful instead of stressful.