Perfection is indeed a dangerous myth. The idea that something or someone can achieve an unchangeable, immutable state from which they cannot grow is detrimental to progress. It is the observation of human potential that should concern us as coaches. But, if we need a standard to measure the optimal performance state, we can get it by juxtaposing ideals of perfection and potential.
I know the last part of the above paragraph is confusing and a bit dense, but follow along for a few more lines and allow me to make better sense of it.
Perfection is dangerous
There is no logical criterion by which to define perfection. Even the dictionary defines perfection as the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects. Or, the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.
Notice both definitions include the “as possible” condition. This stipulation turns the idea of perfection into an (absolutely) subjective ideal, which is problematic.
This condition implies that what’s perfect for one person may be perfectly flawed for another.
On the surface, potential is also immeasurable, so much so that it’s impossible to put a number on it. However, the idea of human potential offers more viable and beneficial challenges to the individual observing it.
The first challenge is understanding its limits-seeing how far it reaches. The second challenge is understanding that many factors affect our limitations and that we must study them to transcend them.
When appropriately faced, these two propositions allow us to design a strategy to reach or get as close as possible to our full potential.
Notice the “as close as possible” provision in my last statement; I put it there because human potential is a moving target that changes the closer we get to it.
Perfection in Potential
A positive spin on the idea of perfection is to place that expectation on the process of assessing human potential.
While no thing or person can achieve objective perfection, the process of studying, tackling, and adapting to the moving goals of our potential is perfect.
Reminding our athletes of this idea can improve motivation and love for the learning process.
Thank you for reading.