Perfection is the Enemy of the Good

Perfection is the Enemy of the Good: Fear of Speaking

I was watching the HBO Series Westworld (highly recommended) recently at the time of writing this post. Anthony Hopkins’ character made a point that the entirety of life’s evolution and natural selection has been born from mistakes. Therefore, perfection can be the enemy of the good.

Learning From Mistakes

It is from mistakes that we become better and recognize our weak points.

Does this mean “learn from your mistakes?” Not exactly, a mistake’s usefulness is recognizing that something didn’t work. 

Still, it doesn’t require further analysis, and you just need to know, “Oh, not that” and move on. Focus on what you are listening to or reading, and you will naturally get better, maybe eventually even becoming good. 

Input is always the way forward when it comes to improving language acquisition.

Do you know what you’ll never be? Perfect.

Perfection Can Be Your Enemy

I really hate the idea of perfection. Perfection is boring. Mistakes are fun, and you can laugh them off and remind yourself what an exciting thing it is to use this weird meat computer in our skull to try and solve things. 

Having a standard of perfection WILL stop you from ever being good because it is an unattainable goal that pits you against your inevitable IM-perfection.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Making Mistakes Speaking Chinese Will Help You Learn

When you are going to speak with someone in Chinese, relax and get ready to enjoy your various mistakes. Ask your friends, “Oh, can I say this?” or “How do you guys say X?” Make fun of yourself. Be fine with listening. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.

Repeat things people just said and say, “Did I say that right? What does that mean?” Throw out ideas of perfection, and you are getting rid of one of your most significant barriers not only to fluency but just enjoying yourself.