22 Jul

Better

Thomas's friends (the green ones)

“I’m better now.”

That’s what my two-year-old says, clutching his Ghost Frog (there on the far right…), after a spill, or a tantrum, or a kiss for real and imagined wounds.

It struck me the other day, when he said it, that that’s how I want to be able to answer the question, “How are you doing?”

I want to be able to say, “I’m better now.”

  • I’m better now than I was yesterday.
  • I’m better now than I was five minutes ago.
  • I’m better now than I was five years ago.

I want, always, to be better. That’s actually a shift: once upon a time I wanted to be perfect…and it took me a long time to realize that while perfection isn’t possible, excellence is.

That can be hard to accept. A lot of us tend to see things in terms of black or white, so we put off doing anything for fear something within it won’t attain some ideal state. But life isn’t black and white. It’s about managing the gray.

Just this morning, while helping someone get back on track with their goals, I realized she and I shared something: for both of us, doing nothing was actually more untenable than doing something imperfectly. That, for both of us, doing something is always better than doing nothing. Doing nothing means no hope for continuous (or at least, continual) improvement, no hope for being better.

So the next time you’re stuck, or down on yourself, or paralyzed by perfectionism, ask,

What can I do, right now, that’s better than nothing?

If it’s better than nothing, then it’s a good enough place to start. It’s good enough to grow on, good enough to learn from, good enough to get better.

So, how are you doing? Are you better now?