Everyone has an idea of what “perfect” is to them. Most know that it’s a concept that doesn’t truly exist, and is only subjective if it did- but we like to chase the idea anyway. We want a perfect life, perfect children, and a perfect house. Perfectionism effects our lives in trivial day-to-day decisions too. We’ve all spent too much time at least once picking a perfect outfit, or taking and deleting several selfies until we get the perfect one. However, most of the time this perfectionism is based on a fear of failure and the fear of what others think, as we perceive our work and decisions as a reflection of the self. These fears can be rational or irrational, but they are normal and every one has them to some degree.
Now don’t get me wrong, perfectionism can be a great tool to help us succeed, and successful people hold themselves to a high standard. It can be a double-edged sword though, as we get stuck in the mentality that if something isn’t perfect it ain’t worth doing.
This trap can be easy fall into when we’re exposed to the blast of social media advertising that the fitness industry runs on. I’m fully aware of the irony as I am publishing this via social media, but I digress. The dangerous aspect of social media advertising is that it runs on the concept of “image crafting”. Image crafting is just constructing one’s social media content to control the way other’s view them.
Chances are you have an Instagram fitness star that you aspire to look like, lift like, move like, or generally be like- and so do I. These people inspire us and it’s rad that we want to achieve our goals like they do. What’s important to remember though is that people post only the highlight reel of their lives.
When we see someone shredded at a contest, smashing an impossible PR, or looking hotter than a rattlesnake’s belly working out at an exotic beach, what we’re seeing is a finished product, not the effort nor the grit that went into it. Nor are we seeing their insecurities, failures, or other parts of their personal lives. No one wants to air their dirty laundry or share their failures to the world, not only because TMI is weird and creepy, but also because of what I said before- the fear of what other people think.
This is why vulnerability is important for a fitness professional. People connect better with trainers who also have insecurities, doubts themselves sometimes, and aren’t afraid that they make mistakes. Would you want to train with someone who tells you all about how they eat perfect, lifts perfect, and how easy it is for them? No. Of course you don’t- that sounds terrible and has definitely happened at least once at L.A. Fitness. Image crafting on social media is essentially just the digital version of that.
In conclusion, keep on creating and sharing. The only way to get to your goals and achieve your vision is by creating something, ANYTHING. You can’t have a finished product if there’s no product at all. Take my blog for example- this post is an incoherent, rambling mess- but each one will get better with practice! You can never improve your fitness goals without scrutiny either, so be sure to get as many eyes on you as possible, even if it’s uncomfortable for you.
I leave you with this excerpt from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It really stuck with me and I hope it does the same for you:
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.