My five year old loves to dance. She does it absolutely imperfectly but with enough joy and faith in herself it fills the kitchen to overflowing. When she makes a mistake she makes it part of the dance, acts like it was meant to be there, fully owns it. Her believing that the dance was meant to be that way, makes her adoring audience believe it too.
There's a life lesson in there somewhere.
I'm a bit of a perfectionist, which is tough for someone so far from perfection. Little things annoy me. The creams and potions of my medicine cabinet are all without lids. I'm not sure how this happens or where they go. But they're not there and it makes my skin crawl.
I clean in fits and starts, wanting for my house to be pulled up to perfection so badly I tear through my Eco sprays with reckless abandon, but it never quite gets there. I like my white t-shirts white - so I soak them in laundry soaker, returning days later to a forgotten bucket of grimy liquid and fabric that has not withstood the 5 day soak in super harsh chemicals.
My handbag is another battlefield for perfection. I aim for neatly organized individual bags within. One for make up, another for helpful kiddie things like wet wipes and tissues, then pens and a notepad in a separate pocket. Yesterday I put my hand in hoping to pull out the 'kiddie bag' and instead plunged my finger into a rotting mandarin. Yes, a rotting mandarin - in my handbag.
My attempts at perfection end in a series of epic fails.
This love affair with 'the idea' of perfection froze me when I first started the business. I lost months atrophied by my fear of making an imperfect decision.
It started with the name. There's so much in a name I wanted it to be, well, perfect. (For more on this see Girlboss Season 1 Episode 3!). I drove my family crazy with the to and fro. I doodled in my journal endlessly, trying out the rhythm of names as they fell off my tongue and on to the page. There were family inspired names like 'Keijser & Co.', there was 'Restyle' - get it? No? Fair enough. There was 'Tonic Textiles', 'BodyBalm', 'Panacea'. Nothing seemed quite right, quite 'perfect' enough. Subsequent attempts at perfection were thwarted by others who had got there first. I was desperate to use 'Bodytonic', but the Companies Office informed me it was unavailable. On and on I went. Weeks past.
This quest for perfection is like chasing a mirage in a desert. It's seductive and alluring, calling you to her, drawing you in. But it's allusive, it's not real - and chasing it will leave you exhausted and lost, wasting energy on its pointless pursuit. Or at least that's what it did to me.
Eventually I realized I had to make a decision, any decision, a perfect one was not necessary. Just one that unlocked my atrophied limbs and moved me toward the goal of building a business. And if I made a mistake, if the name like my attempts at house cleaning, was an epic fail then nevermind. I'd just take a leaf out of the book of my precious girl, and keep dancing, acting like that was just the way I intended it to be.
Funnily enough, while I didn't get my 'perfect' name. I think 'Tonic & Cloth' is an excellent fit - it's a name that has set the tone and direction for the brand, and one that somehow is growing with us. And therein is the lesson for me. To stop seeking perfection and instead aim for excellence. Excellence as opposed to perfection nullifies expectation, it's deliciously attainable and rewarding, it doesn't admonish or criticize or tear down as perfection's quest does - instead its hopeful attitude keeps you dancing.