The Futile Pursuit of Perfection

In business (and life) chasing perfection is setting you up to be disappointed for the very simple reason that perfection does not exist. There is no such thing as ‘perfect’ and Stephen Hawking is here to tell you why. Click through to read this article and watch the video.

Stephen Hawking is rather a clever chap. Along with being one of history’s truly great scientific minds, he also has the ability to explain highly complex concepts and processes in accessible ways to the layperson. I am just such a layperson. Despite my creative, non-scientific mind, I have a mad love of documentaries about physics, especially about space and the Universe. I wish I could say I understood everything these contained but alas, no. Quite the opposite at times.

Hawking, on the other hand, is behind some of my favourite documentaries for precisely the reason that one of his many considerable gifts is to illustrate intelligent yet understandable explanations of scientific concepts. Most incredibly though are the beautiful parallels he draws between physics and how we live our lives. Talk about making science accessible!

I love to look at how what I learn can be applied to my own life, and challenges I face, and one such lesson that struck a chord with me was hearing him talk about perfection. In his own words, one of the basic rules of the Universe is that nothing’s perfect – perfection simply does not exist.

I wanted to share this as an invitation for you to consider the role the pursuit of perfection plays in your life, and your business. Does working toward perfection hold you back from being willing to give things a go, unless you can control the outcome? Maybe you struggle to get past the dream stage because in reality things won't always go how you planned?

Realising that perfection doesn't exist may just set you free.

This short video contains an excerpt from one of his documentaries, Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, which does a very elegant job of explaining why perfection does not exist and why we wouldn't want it to anyway:

Considering the necessity for imperfection in creating anything new. why is it we strive so hard for the opposite? This may sound rather cynical but I think this is because

'perfection' is something our culture encourages, whether consciously or otherwise, because it is unachievable. If we keep trying and striving to be and do more, we buy into a cycle of self-improvement and consumption that never ends. The beauty industry is one such example of a mechanism to keep us endlessly chasing perfection.

Indeed, anyone who tells you that perfection is achievable is trying to sell you something.

Given that perfection is impossible, instead of wearing the badge of ‘perfectionist’ with a kind of battle-worn pride, or trying to change ourselves to suit an ideal archetype, I believe we should embrace the imperfection in our selves, in others and in life - as that is truly where the magic lies.

As bloggers and creatives, striving for an unattainable perfection can all too often hold us back from sharing our message with the world.

To paraphrase Stephen Hawking, without imperfection nothing would be here. That means there would be no hot chips or potato fries, no puppies, no sunsets over snow-capped mountains, no Ewan McGregor. And really, who would want to live in a Universe like that? Certainly not me.


What do you think about perfection? Does it hold you back, or have you been able to let go of the belief in one ideal outcome? I'd love for you to share your thoughts in comments below, and don't forget to share this with a friend who might also like it.