Thrive in Five: Performance, Not Perfection

performance not perfection acrobats jumping on stilts

This week’s Thrive in Five is about focusing on Performance Not Perfection

I’d like to tell you a little story. Some years ago, I went to a show on London’s South Bank called Circa. It’s an acrobatic show and these athletes were doing the most extraordinary things. Balancing on one arm, doing jumps on stilts. I mean, incredible stuff.

At this particular show sitting there in the audience close to the front row, I had a really clear view of the action. What I could see that stood out for me is that despite these people doing the most extraordinary things, their bodies varied quite a bit. Some were tall, some were short, some are incredibly cut. So there was lots of muscular definition and others less so, but they were all incredibly strong.

All of them were able to do all the stunts and all the tricks. Literally carrying the bodyweight of another, perhaps larger athlete on their shoulders whilst they were standing on one leg.

They valued performance over perfection

But what stood out for me is what these guys valued is performance over perfection. None of them were striving to get cut abdominals or huge bulging quadricep muscles. They were only focused on whether they could perform those stunts safely and with some degree of longevity. They can’t just perform for the night, they need to do this same show twice a day, 10 times a week.

I thought was really interesting because I wonder how much we, as business people, value performance over perfection? Are we chasing this notion of perfection and that we need to do everything, we need to appear a certain way, we need to perform a certain way? Or are we just focused on doing what we can achieve, for example, on delivering something that is good enough? On making ourselves happy and not worrying so much about external validation.

Seeking internal validation, not external

I think if we were able to make that mind shift into really focusing on performance, not perfection life could be significantly better for ourselves.

So I invite you to look at that in your own life. If you like, take the Circa analogy, are you looking for a chiselled appearance or are you just focusing on where that body can take you? The journey it can take you on. The experiences you can have with it, the connection you can form. Or are you focused on maybe the aesthetics?

You can apply that to any aspect of life, to physical training, to your work, to the connection you have in your social environments, to the hobbies that you do. You can apply it to absolutely everything.

High-achieving people and burnout

One thing I do know about high-achieving people, we do tend to get very caught up in this notion of perfectionism. And I think it can be a bit of a hiding to nothing and take you down that route to burnout.

One of the commonalities of people who have burnout is that they very often described themselves as perfectionists. Let’s call ourselves performance-ists, if you like, I’m focused on what we can do with our minds and our bodies and not so much what they look like.

You may enjoy my TEDx talk on why fitness if more important than fatness:

We also have our fantastic resource to help you become fit for the rigours of business and everyday life. Using the training technique and strategies used by professional athletes, applying them to your day to day life.

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