Life is Messy. Don’t Tidy Up
Messiness isn't highly revered, but maybe it should be.
I hope you were able to enjoy a nice weekend and feel prepared for the week ahead. And if not, that’s alright too. Today we’re taking a closer look at the messiness of life.
As always, I hope the thoughts and ideas below help serve as a helpful jumping-off point for reflection, and thanks for reading!
Life is Messy. Don’t Tidy Up
You want a valve that doesn't leak and you try everything possible to develop one. But the real world provides you with a leaky valve. You have to determine how much leakiness you can tolerate.
Humans are innovation machines. For as long as we’ve been able to keep track of our own history the rate of positive change has been head-spinning, especially in recent years.
We’ve gone from bloodletting to laparoscopic surgery, walking across land bridges to flying across the world, and witch trials to an understanding of the diversity of human psychology.
And the relentless pursuit of improvement and progress is long from over. A new iPhone comes out every year, we’re helping the blind see again, and bringing extinct species back to life.
Amongst all the technological progress, we try to keep up with with the inhuman pace of advancement and perfection.
Our exposure to new ideas has grown from our tribes, to our villages, to our cities, to our countries, to the entire world, and expectations for our individual performance and well-being continue to increase.
We have all the information we can imagine, technology that was inconceivable just a few years ago, and rates of disease, poverty, and crime are lower than ever. Yet most of us feel like our lives are out of control. We feel like there’s so much more we could and should be doing. No matter how hard we try nothing is good enough.
Despite all the advancement, all of the knowledge, and more opportunities than ever, life is still messy.
There’s no escaping the imperfections and inconsistencies of being human.
If we don’t learn to embrace the messiness then we’re bound for a lifetime of disappointment and frustration. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
There will always be more work to do. There will always be more i’s to dot and t’s to cross. There are no upper limits to our performance, the work we create, the relationships we maintain, or the life we live. We can always do more or do better, but it will always be messy.
This doesn’t mean we should throw away the pursuit of perfection, merely that we should temper our expectations. Chasing perfection or giving up on becoming better are poor strategies for creating a fulfilling and rewarding life.
Life is messy and nothing will ever be perfect. The faster we can accept it, the faster we can find a realistic and sustainable balance in our pursuit to become better.
Are you more of a perfectionist or someone who quits too early?
What messy things in your life are you trying to fix that you need to accept?
Do the messy areas of your life have any real consequences?
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.
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