On Imperfection

September 12, 2021

Is it difficult to create a book? The answer is debatable. Becoming a best-selling author is challenging if that's your sole aim. The process of writing, practicing, editing, and polishing takes a long time. The harsh truth is, if you're an unknown, few people will read what you've written. However, writing a book becomes simple if you commit to writing 50 words per day or one article per week. If you write consistently for a year, you'll have enough material to compile into a book, or perhaps a series of compilations.

2021 09 12

Is it hard to give a speech? The answer is both yes and no. Speaking in front of an audience can be intimidating, especially if you aim to deliver a flawless performance that wows everyone. However, speaking on a topic for just two minutes is far from impossible. Anyone, regardless of their voice, body language, or rhetorical skills, can manage it. If the audience grasps your main point, that's already a success. There's no need to overthink it or let your fear of public speaking overwhelm you.

Is it challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle? At first glance, it seems that committing to daily gym visits, getting out of a comfortable bed, and exerting the sweat and effort required for exercise can be quite demanding. However, running for 20 minutes or doing a few push-ups every day is certainly doable. Taking that first baby step can inspire you to continue and develop a positive habit.

Is dating difficult? No one said it would be easy, but you might be surprised by how challenging it can be. You might feel confident around your friends but freeze up in the presence of an attractive woman. While she's not a threat to you, the fear of embarrassing yourself may hold you back. There could also be other complications like her having a boyfriend or not being interested in men. As a result, she might not be captivated by your awkwardness. However, that's not the crucial point. What matters is enjoying your time and having a meaningful conversation.

While the list of activities could go on, there's a common thread: I set high standards for myself. I obsess over details and am preoccupied with outcomes, public opinion, and self-awareness. While this mindset might propel me to aim high, it also leads me to procrastinate. I didn't start writing until I felt sure of my ideas. I would decline speaking opportunities if I felt unprepared. I'd skip the gym if I could find enough excuses, and I'd hesitate to talk to strangers if I felt the need to impress them. My fear often inhibits me from taking the first step, leading to inaction. Mere thought, without action, leads nowhere.

Taking action, however, encourages further thought and more action. I've realized that things are usually not as bad as I had initially imagined. I've come to accept that my articles may not garner many likes, my speeches may not win international awards, I may not achieve a six-pack, and my partner may not be a supermodel. And that's okay. The outcome is beyond our control and depends on a mix of luck and statistics.

What truly matters is learning to love the process: finding therapy in focused writing, valuing the communication of a message in speaking, feeling energized through exercise, and simply having fun while socializing. Embracing the imperfections in your life can help you overcome imposter syndrome or the feeling of being a fraud who fears making mistakes. Even Albert Einstein, a bona fide genius, suffered from imposter syndrome. Why should ordinary people doubt their achievements?

So, what does it mean to be successful? Success is not defined by the outcome, but by progress: better writing, more practice in speaking, improved health, and enhanced social skills. Every small step toward continuous improvement is a success. It's something both you and I can achieve.

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Victor Leung, who blog about business, technology and personal development. Happy to connect on LinkedIn