If you do not read Michael Fay’s blog, you should. His latest post called "Perfectionism" is, well, perfect. Not only is Mr. Fay a master of the paintbrush, he is a master writer. His writing always gives me lots to think on. I started to write a lengthy comment to his post, but I decided that I should save long comments for my own blog.
I have always known that I was not a perfectionist. I am more of a "wing it" sort of person. Not that I do not make plans and lists, but eventually, I feel like you have to jump in with both feet and just go for it. There is nothing wrong with planning, and sometimes perfection is necessary. I guess I have always just been a person of action. When I use to work with my dad, sometimes he would sit and plan on a problem for a long time (really he was just using the time to rest, drink coffee, and smoke a cigarette). I would be hopping around him saying, "Let’s just do it, Dad!"
This upcoming weekend is an example of my planning. I am pretty much the main person in charge of our 30th high school reunion. The reunion is planned as much as I am willing to plan. Anything else that needs to happen will just have to happen as we go. There are some people on the committee who are worried about a "program". I am not worried. It will come together. Why sweat the small stuff! I know that there will be armchair folks who do not like every little thing that I have planned for the reunion, but it is a done deal now. No use in crying and whining. Someone had to step up and take charge. I did it. It will all work out. Like it or lump it.
My art classes are another example of my "go for it" attitude. Usually, I have a basic plan – I know what I want to happen on the canvas, but at some point, I have to put paint on the brush and go for it. When my students start a piece of art, I ask them what they want to do. We discuss it. What do you have in mind, how do you want it to look, what medium do you think will work best are a few questions that we discuss. We layout the drawing – sometimes detailed – sometimes not. Then it is time to jump in. I have some students who do this well. I love their "no guts, no glory" attitude. They just attack their work. I have other students who are perfectionists. They look at the blank canvas for a long time. They cannot get started because they fear messing up. When they do start, they have to be prodded along because they do not like how it is working out. They want to quit. Often, they have a difficult time finishing the piece, because they have to work out problems within the painting, and they just do not want to face problems. I rarely let my girls quit a piece. I make them work through things. Yep, sometimes the piece does not work out. I still want them to see their project through to the end. Most of the time the piece works out, but when it does not, learn from it and go on. The students gain confidence, and they feel great when they finish a piece of art.
Fear of failure is a sad thing. It paralysis people. We had dreams of owning a restaurant. So we did it. It was successful, but not without its problems. It turned out that it was not what we dreamed, and we moved on. My husband had dreams of being a rancher. So we did it. Ranching has had its problems, but we made adjustments to work through them. When our kids said, "Hey, I would like to try this…" we encouraged them to go for it. Riflery, rocketry, horses, sports, photography, kayaking, etc. – we did it. It is not that we don’t make plans (we do), but we do not let fear of failure stop us from trying. No, I am not a perfectionist nor is my family, but we do have fun.