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The weight of perfection

The other name for agenda is Ego, which almost always drives an ostensibly grand agenda, but one borne of fear, doubt, jealousy or shame.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When you sense someone inside drive an overpowering thought or action, unsettling you and overriding your peace, it is the presence of an agenda. Agenda, in this context, differs from purpose; it is unconscious and unknown to its carrier, and hasn’t passed through the sieve of its usefulness to life. Purpose, in contrast, is conscious, conceived and highly considered. The other name for agenda is Ego, which almost always drives an ostensibly grand agenda, but one borne of fear, doubt, jealousy or shame. Eckhart Tolle describes ego as delusional, as it expertly deceives the one under its spell, justifies an act or thought with flattering self-dialogue. This deceptive ego that needs constant flattery, often takes over the show of life.

“What’s your agenda?” is a question that I have imagined as always directed at someone else. But, as I turn the question back at myself, I feel the tremors of the ego at being spotted and questioned. However insidious, the ego always finds it easy to grand posture. Here, I elaborate through the narrative of Perfectionism. “I would never do that”, “I cannot stand that”, “I only like it this way” are some ‘milder, common’ perfectionist claims. If you find yourself in any of these phrases, you are recognising how ego manifests daily. Here, the agenda of the ego is self-aggrandisation — separating the self from another in an assertion of self-perfection.

As we start to understand the agenda of the ego that hides in unassuming forms — as likes and dislikes, as values and opinions, often masquerading as an idea of self — we recognise its habitual allusion to perfection as its ideal. The agenda is to gain self-worth by claiming superiority to others — an image of self that can only be short-lived and unsustainable. So that soon enough the hunger for worth returns, and the triumphalism of me vs another plays in a loop. It’s a cheap agenda, to say the least.

Unlike in individual sport, where perfection is a number or a perfect score, chasing perfection is really an impractical, delusional agenda. To understand it, we must go to the backstage of the chase — messy, seized with fear, distraction and doubt — crowded with a host of emotions that feed our inadequacy. For a sportsperson at the cusp of the perfect putt or leap, the backstage is non-existent. The perfect score arrives out of perfect stillness, minus a past miss or a future chase and, most importantly, without distraction from the opponent’s move.


How does it feel to recognise and relinquish the agenda of the ego?

If you can remind yourself of the flow, the lightness, the fluid state experienced when you have absorbed and played from your love of what you do — aware of its imprint on you and with consideration of its value in your life — that is the living practice of following your heart and not the ego’s agenda.

The dictionary describes ‘Perfection’ as an uncountable noun; in many ways a pursuit of it is a cat chasing its tail. Because there is really no formula, framework or definition for perfection. Perfect grades, perfect partner, perfect beauty... Is there such a thing? And, if indeed perfection is a desired purpose, why not let it show up in the process, in the nuts and bolts that make the process, and as ideal building blocks to a final goal?

Next time someone calls you a perfectionist, commit to re-frame, rename it to progress, balance, alignment, even excellence — these are and can be finite, personal goalposts. “Perfectionism is a 20-ton shield we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight,” writes Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection. Imagine climbing up the slope of life carrying the heavy tonnage of egoistic expectations strapped to your back.

Shrug off the weight of those expectations, of perfection, of anything that is heavy with comparison, and borne off fear and self-doubt. Question whose agenda you are driving. Is it the agenda of your ego or that of your growth?

The writer is a freelance writer, blogger and life coach.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 2:13:12 AM |

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