In his TED Talk “How to get better at the things you care about,” Eduardo Briceño speaks to the issue of perfectionism by referencing two distinct zones in which people operate: the learning zone and the performance zone.
The learning zone is when our goal is to improve. Then we do activities designed for improvement, concentrating on what we haven’t mastered yet, which means we have to expect to make mistakes, knowing that we will learn from them. That is very different from what we do when we’re in our performance zone, which is when our goal is to do something as best as we can, to execute. Then we concentrate on what we have already mastered and we try to minimize mistakes.
Perfectionists tend to look at every aspect of life as a performance zone, where you must do your best, execute every goal, concentrate on the skills you have mastered and intentionally minimize all mistakes. This leave little room for growth.
Briceño also observes that living in the performance zone has permeated our educational systems.
I mean that every minute of every day, many students in elementary schools through colleges feel that if they make a mistake, others will think less of them. No wonder they’re always stressed out and not taking the risks necessary for learning. But they learn that mistakes are undesirable inadvertently when teachers or parents are eager to hear just correct answers and reject mistakes rather than welcome and examine them to learn from them, or when we look for narrow responses rather than encourage more exploratory thinking that we can all learn from. When all homework or student work has a number or a letter on it, and counts towards a final grade, rather than being used for practice, mistakes, feedback and revision, we send the message that school is a performance zone.
What parts of your life are learning zones and what parts are performance zone? Do you give yourself permission to make mistakes, to learn new things, explore and experiment in life?
Do you view your relationship with God as a performance zone or a learning zone? Does your self-talk reflect that belief, or do you fuss at yourself (and others) when you fail to live out your faith as you would like?
II Corinthians 12:9
[The Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Let us pray:
Lord God, you love us even in our weakness. Your grace is indeed sufficient, and your power is made known through our weakness. Empower us to fast from thoughts of perfection, for we are only complete in you. We pray in the name of the one who said: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Tags: devotions, fasting, Lent, perfectionism