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Why perfectionism is a no-fly zone

“I am the world’s most disciplined half-ass.”—Elizabeth Gilbert
My new book, Art & Soul, Reloaded, is about being a maker. It is my contention that we are here on Planet Earth to create, to make beautiful things.

I believe our greatest longing is to expand the universe, to make things that, until we came along, didn’t exist.

Maybe it’s a vision for a new way of being. Maybe it’s a song that might change someone’s life. It doesn’t even matter what it is. We are all being called to breathe life into the new.

Right now most of us, instead of being makers, are consumers, really talented consumers, I might add.

But despite the insistent drumbeat of the marketing machine, consuming will never fully satisfy. Whether it’s finally getting the new Porsche on your Vision Board or polishing off Season Six of Modern Family, it’s a half-empty pursuit.

I believe something—maybe your Higher Self?—is tugging at your heart, whispering in your ear—There’s more. There’s much, much more.

I’ve discovered, in my own relationship with creativity, that the “other woman” is often perfectionism. The belief that whatever I’m working on is supposed to be stellar in every way. This foolhardy notion often stops me in my tracks.

However, when I let the need to be perfect go, when I pooh-pooh the old voices that insist the project must be ready for the New Yorker, I find I get a lot more done.

My motto, as I’ve often said, is “Dare to Be Mediocre.”

It has served me well.

I encourage you to join me, to snub your nose at perfectionism. Step up to the plate. Be the the maker you were created to be! The world desperately needs what you have to say.

Pam Grout is the author of 18 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the just-released, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.

24 Responses

  1. I have a young friend who runs a very successful dance company in L.A. One time in an interview someone asked him how he did it. His answer has stayed with and inspired me every day since. He said, “I love being an amateur.”

    Embracing that lets the fun back into the game. It hearkens the attention back to the whizbangpop of it all.

    Thank you for your ceaselessly wonderful creating

  2. I look forward to your emails, and am inspired by them. I’ve listened to E-cubed and read E-squared and Thank and Grow Rich. I already told you about my amazing wish to win a free trip to Hungary, and then a strong desire to take a river cruise, and getting to take one for two weeks, comped. I am still in Hungary enjoying a summer writing about my trips, getting paid for a few articles, and just doing whatever seems cool to do that I think people would like to read about. My next manifestation is a home, as I am not sure where I will live when I return to the U.S., but before leaving, I had a sense that I shouldn’t worry about that, because something would come up between leaving and returning. So, I do have an idea of what I’d like to see happen, but my problem is that i’m normally a very flexible person, and I tend to go with the flow, while figuring out possible solutions. This time, I do have options, but nothing certain and I’m waiting for “Marching Orders.” Is that what you’d see as a way to manifest?

  3. “Dare to be mediocre…”!! Lol….so timely for me, as I have just begun Marianne Williamson’s “A Course in Miracles.”

  4. Good Grief! This is the first of anything I have read from you Pam, that does not sit well…maybe it depends on how you view perfectionism…but doing something right – the perfect tennis or golf swing, the perfectly prepared pasta, when something comes together perfectly…its a beautiful thing!!! all the best,Christilot

  5. Pam, Thankyou soooooooooooo much for your reminders!! I’m a musician…the other woman and the peanut gallery of judgement has put much “salt on my tail” at times. Your encouragement at this time is a blessed nudge. We all count and have a part to play. I think I’m a bit stuck between “Biloxi” and New Orleans, but I want to keep going….I just seen to take “the scenic route”. Thanks, Deb

  6. I love your motto- dare to be mediocre! I have to say it leaves life less stressful when you don’t try to be perfect in every aspect of life. I can’t keep up with the over achievers😁. Can’t wait for your new book.

  7. So me the woman that want it all, shining perfect at work, and than my mirror cracks me a smile
    Hey there are you sure you are perfect, the .mirror said….🤣😉😊

  8. I have never been a perfectionist! One of the many reasons that weaving has been my most favorite longtime (30 years!) craft/hobbies is that it is so forgiving. Some mistakes really do need to be fixed, but most would not be noticed or cared about by anyone but the strictest of weavers. Sometimes projects don’t turn out as planned. But that’s okay. It’s still gonna be cool, and sometimes going to turn out way better than expected. The sewing I do is free form and funky. I don’t care to make stuff that has to look perfect or polished. So I have a lot of fun with my crafts, and consider myself a pretty creative person. Reading your book is helping me realize that I am more creative then I even realized. Thanks much!!!

  9. Looking back at almost 70 years, I found perfectionism to be highly overrated. I was a perfectionist once upon a time. I came from a very demanding family. Then I tried to paint and sew and create and it wasn’t fun until I let go of the need to be perfect. I still do my best in all things but now it has to be fun or I don’t do it. The craft turns out better when the fun and heart are in it. Looking forward to time to read this next book. My daughter and I have devoured your others. She quotes you when I mess up a little in my attitude. 😉

  10. This is awesome!! Thank you for exposing the Poetry Of Imperfection!! Oh, and out here…whiz bang is whipped cream 😂

  11. What’s crazy to me is that “perfectionism” is just one of a whole host of assumptions I’ve learned to live my life by. Here are a couple I’ve been challenging lately:

    1. I have to be an expert in my field to make a difference
    2. I have to know my life’s purpose in order to be happy.
    3. My life only has ONE purpose (instead of many little adventures)
    4. I have to change the world (or make a difference in the world) for my life to be meaningful.

    There are so many more…

  12. Yes! I do whatever I want now simply because it’s fun whereas before I’d start to think about how I ‘should’ be doing it or what the ‘right’ way would be. Such thoughts prevent creativity from authentically being expressed.

  13. Just wanted to thank you for your writing. I found E Squared shortly after someone had maliciously tried to destroy my belief in the very concept you write about. Your experiments brought me back and the experience as a whole forced me to understand on that really deep level. I thought I believed before, but I didn’t understand. This person is still out there hurting people and I don’t know his identity, but I know how to catch him. Thank you for helping me get here.

  14. Love it…loved Big Magic. Loved the quote…looking forward to your new book. I’m looking forward to getting up my half-assed blog. Both you and Elizabeth Gilbert are big on my half-assed hero list.

  15. buddha

    2017-08-26 22:26 GMT+02:00 Pam Grout :

    > psgrout posted: ““I am the world’s most disciplined half-ass.”—Elizabeth > Gilbert My new book, Art & Soul, Reloaded, is about being a maker. It is my > contention that we are here on Planet Earth to create, to make beautiful > things I believe our greatest longing is to” >

  16. I receive alot of emails, articles, blogs. It never ceases to amaze me how many I get rid of and just know that yours is the only one I need to create an amazing and awesome life. Keep up your great work in changing things on our planet! Love you and can’t wait to meet you someday Pam.

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