Harriet Braiker on Excellence vs. Perfectionism
Perfectionism is born of fear — fear of judgement or rejection, fear of being seen, fear of admitting that our best may not be as “perfect” as someone else’s.
But when we set our sights on excellence, we set fear aside. We heal from what Braiker called the “disease to please”.
Instead of trying to shortcut and hurry, we ask more creative questions. We explore more deeply just for the sake of it. We take our personal worth and identity out of it and make our work in service to something larger.
When we strive for excellence, we experience more meaning and connection in our work. While perfection is a short-term goal, excellence takes longer. It’s a path, not a destination. And as Joseph Campbell said, “When we’re on the path, we’re at the goal.”
In daily practice, this all translates to “relish”.
- Relish the small details of each movement.
- Pay closer attention to the sound quality.
- Note the timing.
- Explore the notion of grace, in both movement and attention.
The goal moves from “play these notes” to “be completely here”. We shift from “note players” to “musicians”. One small step today, then another tomorrow.
“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”