“Perfection is the enemy of excellence.“
(derived from Voltaire)
Have you ever been stuck on the edge of a decision? Do you ever spend so much time making a choice that an opportunity slips by? How does it feel when a spur of the moment impulse turns out to be exactly the right move?
Summer’s here and you’re probably making decisions. Here in the northern hemisphere at least, this is the time when the days stretch out and trying to fit everything into your calendar is like putting 6 pounds of oranges into a 5 pound bag.
Practically every moment of your life involves decisions or making choices. To some degree, routines and systems can help us out, but there are always moments big and small when it is time to decide.
Making choices requires effort. There’s a term called “decision fatigue“ which points to the fact that every time we ask our brain to decide on something, we are using up a little bit of the gas in our metaphysical tank for the day. That’s why a lot of high performers will consciously engineer some of the choices out of their day. Barack Obama, for instance, kept five identical versions of the same suit at the ready for each day of the week, so he never had to waste time thinking about what to wear.
This topic comes to mind lately because I’ve been doing a lot of creative work. You may not know it, but when I’m not dancing, spinning records, writing, or serving our Dance First members, I am at The Crucible in Oakland teaching metalwork and building sculptures. (That’s me facilitating a team-building group from Google in the photo above.)
The etymology of the word decide is fascinating in and of itself. At its root is the Latin term ‘cide’ which means to kill. When you decide on something, it means you’ve killed off all the other possibilities. The universe listens, and a door opens into the future. It’s no wonder that the similarly morbid term ‘execute’ is often used with making decisions. Once you decide on something, you execute your plan of action. Decision making is a process of elimination that is constantly in motion from our morning coffee to our bedtime reading.
Choice is derived from the word ‘perceive’ and might be thought of in terms of the bigger picture. You might decide on tea instead of coffee, and if that becomes a habit, it might affect your long-term well-being for your morning routine. But choosing to be a movement facilitator rather than a legal career is more of a life choice, where you set yourself down a path aligned with your values.
A big life choice is usually preceded by careful consideration, weighing of options, sitting with it, sleeping on it, etc. We can always change course, and the idea of choice in and of itself implies the use of free will, rather than the determinism of a universe where everything is preordained by fate.
The universe dances with us in very specific ways. I have always said that “If you don’t find a situation, a situation is going to find you!” Meaning that if you just sit around waiting for life to happen, it might well take you somewhere you didn’t really want to go. When you push on life with love, and take chances in the direction of your dreams, you’ve got a much better likelihood of making them happen. Like the great hockey hero Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”
Circling back to the quote at the top derived from Voltaire, (and by-the-way, if you’ve never read the short satire Candide, put it on your list now!) perfect is the enemy of good. This idea comes into clear focus both when I’m spinning records , or building sculptures. When I’m improvising a dance set digging through my box of records, or mixing and matching odd pieces of metal I try to get in the flow of making snap decisions that may or may not be ‘perfect’ but succeed in the end by creating an excellent outcome.
Perfection is a receding horizon, a vanishing point that is always just a little further away. The old saying “Nobody’s perfect” is entirely accurate. Insisting on nothing less than perfection is a recipe for heartbreak. It’s not the medium-performing students that are the most disappointed in not being valedictorian, it’s the the ones who come in second through tenth who are crushed, which is sad since they often fail to see what high-achievers they are.
The corollary to “Perfection is the enemy of excellence’ is that “Perfection is procrastination’s friend.” It’s so important for you to have a healthy idea of which way your big-picture life choices are going, while knowing when good enough is good enough, so that you can stay in the flow. If you’re ever feeling stuck, ask yourself if you’re maybe just being a little bit too particular, perhaps you just need to call it good enough and move ahead. The dance of life is a process of constantly throwing mud at the wall, seeing what sticks, and moving ahead without being hard on yourself!
May your summer flow ahead with ease and grace! Until next Monday!
DANCE FIRST MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – One Dance Tribe!
This week’s Dance First member spotlight shines on One Dance Tribe and the vibrant team of people behind the scenes who make it happen!
The summer gathering is coming up June 28 to July 4th in Europe, and folks from every corner of the globe are making tracks to be there. Hosted by the illustrious Amara Pagano, creator of The Path of Azul, and her industrious partner Paolo de Angelis, this annual event is one of the big highlights of the global conscious dance calendar.
Featuring a well-loved roster of world class leaders including Azul’s Amara Pagano, Soul Motion’s Vinn Arjuna Martí & Edgar Spieker, 5Rhythm’s Adam Barley, Open Floor’s Amala Petra Storm, Movement Medicine’s Cyrill Chantereau, and Wave Continuum’s Eva Geueke. Plus a dynamic roster of musicians, wisdom teachers, and healers. Each day includes movement, yoga, spiritual teachings, and plenty of time to socialize and enjoy the spa!
There’s still time to make plans and reserve your spot at this epic destination. Meet and move with a stellar collection of somatic professionals and conscious dancers from around the world.
The venue for One Dance Tribe Europe is the Sonnenstrahl Center in Kisslegg, Germany, a one-of-a-kind retreat center nestled in an Old World village featuring luxury accommodation, organic meals, sauna and spa amenities, and an abundance of nature.
One Dance Tribe – International Conscious Movement Gathering
June 28 to July 4th, Sonnenstrahl Center, Kisslegg, Germany