While helping make lunch, my sister began cutting a watermelon. She hesitated and grimaced several times as she tried to make each piece the same size. My seven-year-old nephew watched her for a few minutes and then kindly said, “It doesn’t have to be perfect.”
“I need a bunch of sticky notes with that quote to put all over my house,” she said.
He walked over to the desk, printed his words on a piece of paper, and then asked with a smile, “How many of these do you want?”
She took a photo of the original and shared it with me. I keep it on my phone as a reminder.
My nephew’s words are even more powerful when I consider that he’s only lived in the United States for 17 months and arrived knowing less than ten words of English. Over the last year and a half he’s applied this wisdom countless times as he’s learned the norms of a new culture and how to speak a new language.
If you’re like my sister and me, if you struggle with trying to make things perfect, chances are you’re avoiding doing some things you can actually do well, because you might not do them perfectly. Release yourself from that trap by reminding yourself: “It doesn’t have to be perfect.”
Whether it’s implementing a new strategy in your classroom, adding a new kind of exercise to your daily routine or learning a new language, don’t let the fear of imperfection keep you from trying.