This is something I keep coming back to again and again. I run into it in my own pursuits, my peers and the precious people who hit me up.
I’ve said it time and time again:
There is good. There is great. There is beautiful. Yes. But forget about perfect. It doesn’t exist. Striving for it will drain you and ultimately stall your progress.
It’s an illusion, a false mindset.
This is by no means my idea – or even a new idea. Voltaire, for example, said it in 1770 in his poem “La Bégueule”:
The perfect is the enemy of the good.
We see false perfection everywhere. We grow up believing it and, subconsciously, live our lives contributing to the problem.
We want to create perfect things. We want to look perfect. We want to wait for the perfect moment to do something. We look for perfect opportunities.
But life just doesn’t work like that.
Perfectionism turns us into control freaks and we stop moving forward. Our imagination becomes stale and we lose inspiration.
Becoming good at something is all about the journey and embracing what unexpected things it brings. Ben Settle, a very succesful copywriter and one of the most straight up guys on the internet, has his own way of looking at it:
Money is attracted to speed.
How do we get rid of this false mindset then? Well, just as we grew into it, we must grow out. It takes time and conscious effort.
Rather than trying to create perfect music, focus on becoming better at the act of creating music.
Focus on the big picture.
Focus on your workflow.
Bring more meaning to things.
Finish more of what you start.
Utilize what you already possess.
Be good enough.
Learn to build momentum, and learn to let go.
Get your music out there and fight perfectionism.
Hold on… What am I even talking about?
What is perfect?
What if it is only our modern perception of the term “perfect” that is skewed? What if perfect exists after all?
We saw what Voltaire thought back in 1770. Let’s push further back in time.
Aristotle talks about the definitions of “perfect” in his book “Delta” (this may not be the exact translation/interpretation, but it really got me):
- Perfect = Which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts.
- Perfect = Which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better.
- Perfect = Which has attained its purpose.
Which has attained its purpose.
Just think about that for a moment. What a beautiful thought!
If attaining a purpose is your new perfect… Everything suddenly seems simple.
Finding more meaning in things becomes your path to growth and improvement.
Find meaning in life, find meaning in your music. Oh, and do not just find meaning. Actively create it. Engineer purpose into everything you do (including every little thing in your music). Purpose will light up the path as you journey onwards into the fascinating unexpected.