For certain purposes and for limited times, horses wear blinders to reduce the distraction of what is behind and beside them. Some trainers use blinders keep horses from getting spooked on busy streets or distracted by crowds at a race. By limiting their field of vision, blinders enable horses to focus on the task at hand. If worn all the time, however, blinders would get in a horse’s way. He may not spot the cool stream to his left or the tasty mound of hay to his right. He could run through a wide meadow unable to quench his thirst or satisfy his hunger.
So, what do horses, blinders, and perfection have in common?
Searching for perfection is like wearing blinders: it limits our field of vision. We become unaware of change and opportunity outside a narrow focus of expectation. Sure, perfection has its allure – otherwise we wouldn’t be enticed by perpetual media adds tempting us with the perfect car, a way to get flawless skin, or exercise equipment promising 6-pack abs in a flash. The problem is that perfectionism defines success in very narrow terms, and like blinders on a horse, it excludes a wide range of possibilities that we may actually find appealing. Think about how expecting perfection in people can mess up relationships. Evidence of imperfection in a loved one may blind us to his good points, while imperfection in ourselves motivates us to dismiss our own strength, beauty, and value.
Just as horses don’t always wear blinders, perhaps its time for us to remove the blinders of perfection. What will happen if we do?
A teenager may discover a gorgeous smile amid acne. A septuagenarian may recognize sparkly eyes in sea of wrinkles. A man may appreciate his 10 year old ride. A wife may discover kindness in her husband. A woman may realize that her curvy body is sexy. A student may discover that learning is more important than just getting A’s. Without blinders, maybe we’ll all get closer to finding satisfaction.
What will you discover when you remove the blinders of perfection?