Misunderstanding Perfection

Perfection
is a feeling.

What is perfect
to one
is imperfect
to another.

What is perfect
one day
is not perfect
the next.

We can misunderstand perfection
if we focus solely
on clarifying the measurement
of perfection.

We can better understand perfection
by clarifying the tension
underlying the drive
for perfection.

Tension to Pain

Tension
beyond a certain threshold
will cause damage,
small or big.

Damage
will cause pain,
little or much.

Pain
will yield behaviors
intended to soothe
or prevent further pain.

Some of these behaviors
can damage our relationship to others,
unintentionally.

And yet,
if we
and our relationships
can recover from the damage,
both can develop,
as our muscles do
when they incur damages
from the significant tension they experience
from exercise.

Behavior vs Need

Validation
has somehow become
a dirty word.

So has attention.

It’s as if
seeking validation
or attention
is shameful.

Human beings need
validation
and attention.

Without it,
we’ll die
a slow death.

It’s one thing
to suggest behavioral changes
as to how
when
and from whom
people seek validation
or attention.

It’s quite another
to shame
the human need
for attention
or validation.

This may only increase
the tension
living inside
humanity,
and, in turn,
may either provoke
the very behaviors we dislike
or merely make it
less visible,
and perhaps,
as a result,
make it,
more
dangerous.

Where am I?

Focusing on a desire
of what we want
can create the tension
required to motivate us
to keep moving
toward the future.

And yet,
such desire alone
can often lead us
to inadvertently focus
on where we are not.

It is in being aware
of not only our desire,
but also the progress
we’ve made thus far
that we may recognize
where we are.

It is in this awareness,
where notions of
past, present, and future
can make way
for a sense
of belonging.

A sense
that we deserve
to be where we are,
thanks not only
to our own merits,
but also the merit
of our supporters,
and our circumstances.

Happy Parents, Happy Kids

10 years ago,
my mother
realized empathy with herself
and discovered
that all this time
she had unconsciously assumed
she had to do what she felt
was not worth doing,
only
to make others happy.

Ironically,
once she felt
she was given permission
to stop doing these things,
those around her
felt happier.

Why?

Because
She behaved toward them
less out of the resentment
left over
from doing so many things
out of obligation.

Something similar
happens in leadership.

Some founders I coach
started out thinking
it was their responsibility
to make everyone around them
happy.

A tall order.

Especially so,
because behaviors arising
from the tension they held
from that very sense
of responsibility
was contributing
to the unhappiness
of those around them.

But they needed permission
to invest the time and effort
to manage their own tension.

Because it felt selfish
to do so.

So instead,
they chose
to be strong.

The saying,
“Happy parents,
Happy kids”
is not a permission
to be selfish.

It is an invitation
to journey into
the vulnerable
and creative process
of survival
together
by striving
to be the best support
we possibly can
for each other.

Still a tall order,
but together.

Becoming Aware of Our Tension

One way
to sort the behaviors
that arise from too much tension
is into 5 categories.

It can be useful
to simply notice
and to acknowledge these behaviors
as natural human reactions
to our desire to relieve ourselves
of too much tension,
instead of judging them
as good/bad
or right/wrong.

This can give us
the requisite room in our mind
to not only appreciate the tension we experience,
but also the tension experienced by others
when they behave
the same way.

Tension as Problem vs Paradox

Richard Feynman—
Physicist—
once said,
“Paradox
is only a conflict between
Reality
vs
Our feeling of what reality
ought to be.”​​

I define tension
as a conflict between​
What we have
vs
What we need or value.

When I noticed
the remarkable similarity
between these two,
I realized
that we can either
judge tension as “bad,”
so as to frame it as a “problem.”
or
We can let it evoke
our curiosity and wonder
so as to frame it
as a “paradox.”

The choice
can be ours.

Choose to Relieve Your Tension

Some of our tensions
come from sitting around
hunched over
a computer screen.

Go running.
Do a few burpees.
Stand up
and write on the whiteboard.
If you’re breathing shallow,
breathe from your belly.
Stand tall,
look up at the ceiling for a few seconds
and smile.
Submerge your face
in ice-cold water
for a few seconds,
a few times.
For a period of time,
walk around
holding a frozen water bottle in your hand.
Receive emotional support.
Get the help of a professional.

Whatever you do,
may we remember
there exists the option
to choose to take the first step
to relieving our tension.

Whether we do it ourselves
or ask for the help of others,
may we make the choice.

Now.

Realizing Empathy can be Difficult

Empathy realizing by itself is easy.
Realizing empathy, on the other hand, can be difficult.

Sometimes this is difficult due to a bias or a lack awareness.
But that’s not all.
What can also make it difficult is tension.

Tension is a conflict between what our mind needs or values vs what it has instead.

When we experience too much tension, we can become mired in the discomfort or pain.
In this state, we have no room in our being to realize our empathy.

When two people are experiencing significant tension, without the help of a 3rd-party—not only free of significant tension, but also well-versed in the art of realizing empathy—, it is unlikely the two will be able to realize empathy with each other.

To be a Better Designer, Attend to Your Pain

We experience tension
when there’s a conflict
between what we expect or need
VS what we have
instead.

Design begins
when we take responsibility
for clarifying,
prioritizing,
and addressing
our tension.

Say we expect computers
to be more usable.
We begin to design
the moment we take responsibility
for clarifying,
prioritizing,
and addressing
this tension.

We don’t always design, though.

Sometimes
we push responsibility
away.

We blame.

This is normal.

Especially when tension
accompanies pain.

If we wish to design
may we attend to our pain
immediately.

Before it becomes
an untreated wound.

A wound that can be irritated
unexpectedly,
leaving us
with such a low threshold
for tension
that we end up spending
too much of our time blaming
instead of designing.