If you look at perfection from the mental state of the ego, it comes with conditions. Only if you do this, make this much money, or look this way will you reach perfection. The perfection I’m talking about comes from love, which is unconditional. There’s nothing we have to do or achieve to be perfect because that’s already who we are. Once we know who we are, it is easier to take in these ideas. It’s not an egoic thing to say that I’m perfect because if I am you, then you are perfect. If that’s true then I will treat you with the same reference that I treat myself. It’s also true to say that you are perfect and also a work in progress. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive. I don’t mean someone who makes no mistakes. I’m talking about a person who is faultless thanks to love and forgiveness.
When we love each other, cease judging each other, and forgive when there is wrongdoing, there is no room for expectation. There is no need to prove something you already are. Buying the latest car, having the best job, or obtaining the best spouse (as if this person was an object) has nothing to do with your value. In a perfect world, we would all realize that we are perfect just the way we are. The world with its glitz and glamor makes you believe that you are somehow less than others. We live in a world based on scarcity. The main idea of capitalism is that there isn’t enough for everyone, so we must compete. This idea of scarcity permeates all walks of life, from the scarcity of having a good grade when the class is a grade on a curve, to trying to get into a “good” college, to trying to get a job. It’s all a competition and only the fit survive. Yet, none of that matters.
What Happens When We Separate
When we look through the lens of separation, we start to get into ranks. It’s honestly wild how we rank things but don’t have consistent criteria. We think somebody is better than another person because they make more money or have more fame. People then chase this money and fame because they don’t want to be seen as less than others. Some people succeed, while most people fail. The only reason people succeed is to perpetuate the idea of hierarchy. For people to feel as though they are less than others, we need to meet a quota of “successful” people. When you know your value is that of the highest-ranked person (whoever that is), you know you don’t need what the world calls success. I am not in awe of a celebrity. You shouldn’t either.
It’s kind of hard to navigate this mindset in the workplace. There has been a growing notion to shrink hierarchy in the corporate setting, but there are still instances of it. You might still have a manager and there might still be subordinates. When it comes to working, I want to value a partnership or relationship over control. I don’t want to feel like I work for someone, but I work with someone. No one is my boss. I am no one’s subordinate. No one can command me to do anything because to command infers inequality. I probably wouldn’t make it in the military. At the same time, the person who has more experience than me and is called manager by title is still given the utmost respect because he/she is also me.
Uncomfortable with Perfection
It’s very uncomfortable believing that we are all perfect. I have tightness in my chest writing about it. Usually, when fear comes up, the truth is behind it. Try perfection on for size. See if it fits you. Go along in the world feeling like you have to do nothing to prove anything to anyone. Roam the world knowing that you don’t have any expectations, nor do you expect anything from anyone else. You don’t have to achieve. You don’t have to perform. Perfection is what you already are. This is your chance to be your authentic self while also giving everyone you come in contact with the same opportunity.
Being humble is not what we think it is. We think we know what humility is, but we define it from the lens of a guilt and shame culture. When it comes to humility as a social construct, we limit our light and deny our perfection. In most cases, we force people to be humble, not for the betterment of pride, but to make the other person feel better about themselves. Humility becomes a lie when we downplay who we are. We put our identity in things that don’t last due to the fear of making everyone else uncomfortable if we decide to shine our light.
True humility is knowing who you are and knowing that everyone else is as you are. It’s knowing that you’re a great person, while never putting someone above you. In this way, we should all be as equals. I’m perfect and you are too. I’m not more perfect than you. I am not less perfect. Once we start to compare and rank our abilities relative to one another is when we get into trouble. We should stop believing that dimming our light is going to make us humble. The only thing it does is place us in the position of a perception that is not true. Any negative reaction to being your truest self must also be meaningless as well.
For those who have the opposite perspective and believe they are one in a million, I have a hard fact for you. You’re not. You’re not special because everyone is special. It has nothing to do with what you’ve done in life and what you have accomplished. In a world of 7 billion people, there are probably thousands of people who’ve done exactly what you’ve done. Sure, you could have been the valedictorian at your school. Could you imagine all the other valedictorians saying their speeches at the same time you were saying yours? Our stories aren’t special. You aren’t the only underdog who faced insurmountable obstacles to get to where you are today.
Competition Rather Than Collaboration
It’s not a surprise that we think this way. Our culture is built on competition. It’s quite complicated that we always want to be better than someone else, but also keep a perception of humility. We’ve talked about why already. We are afraid that we are insignificant and the only way to have significance is to compare our significance to someone else. This is why you go into a doctor’s office and you see diplomas, degrees, and plaques. It could be social proof that they are good at what they do. It could also be evidence of their achievement. Years of their life studying for a piece of paper that no one can ever take away from them.
It’s the reason why work is primarily goal-based. I still currently find myself in non-profit spaces where it’s more important to achieve arbitrary key performance indicators than actually knowing if our work is helping people. I’ve spent more time going over objectives and key results (OKRs) than the impact that the organization is having on our community. People work hard to achieve these goals, making the accolade of completing the goal more important than lasting achievement. We live in a world where meeting a deadline is more urgent than loving someone you might not see tomorrow. I thought my director’s position was the thing that held significance. The game of life has been a win-lose game when we should just be happy that we get to play it. Nothing from the outer world can define who we are because it will be less than our greatest self. It’s almost ironic how being prideful puts us in a lower state of self.