The Myth of Perfection

One of the many reasons perfection is unattainable is because our desire for it relies on the delusion that we can control things. Although we can control how disciplined we are, whether we dedicate our time to our work, or even how we treat others, let’s face it, controlling the daily goings-on is not just a myth, it’s a pipe dream. Could I control the fact that the signal on my cell dropped while in the middle of a long-awaited consultation? How about when a client decided to terminate our contract a few months early? Or when I had a lunchtime lecture set up with no venue in which to eat?! If I could control everything, then yes, most things would be perfect, but I’ve learned to leave control and its cousin named perfection checked at the door. Next time you find yourself starting to lose patience, take note that it is most likely at the same time you are fearful that you are losing control of a situation. So, then the antidote to impatience must be to simply stop trying to control everything. You know that’s a joke. If you are reading this book, you are a business person, and that means you are fully aware that we aren’t naturally patient. In fact, our impatience and the fast pace in which we think, act, and create is often one of the main reasons we are good at what we do. But the truth is, not everyone is going to meet your pace, and we must develop the patience and understanding that we are who we are, but can’t expect everyone to be just like us!

So at the very least, we need to be patient, and that means finding empathy and compassion for the point of view of a disgruntled client and reacting rationally and immediately. To be patient means to be flexible with people when they are late for a meeting or have to cancel appointments due to sudden circumstances. Patience means we learn to not take things personally and to remember to speak with our heart and not our egos. And, if attacked verbally, people with patience have developed the skills to avoid stooping to a level that is dysfunctional and always futile.

Fear leads to impatience, impatience leads to anger, and anger leads to a really poor business model and lack of leadership. While describing the teachings of Shantidava, the 8th century Indian philosopher and teacher, regarding anger and patience, Lokos writes “Patience is our ally as we endeavor to undermine the energy of anger.”6

I had the honor of speaking with Adam Markel, CEO of New Peaks, best-selling author of Pivot, attorney, husband, and father. He is a man of true self-actualization and who knows the power of skillful speech, and practices it personally and professionally. In fact, I was moved when he told me how he and his company put words of kindness and love to good use. At his events, he says he provides a love ball, on which people write beautiful messages with indelible ink. “The love ball is floating in my pool. All this love writing on it, that was put there as part of a celebration of one of our programs,” Adam told me. “When we are done with events and the love ball is covered with love messages and kind words, the love ball goes to a charity or good cause—maybe a children’s hospital, where people can receive the energy of that kindness, and can feel it and absorb it and maybe be healed by it.”