Perfect is the Enemy of Good

Never good enough. Three words that I should have left behind me many, many years ago.

Those three words have been with me through my school years, my work years, and with literally every activity I have pursued in my life.

Even now, as I officially enter my senior years, I live with this fear, this fear of never being good enough.

I suspect most musicians carry at least some of this fear with them whenever they play for an audience. Particularly when it is so easy now to compare yourself with others. I can go online and watch countless videos of guitar players ripping and shredding at a level that seems superhuman. It can often be very discouraging when you believe that you will never measure up.

Perhaps what I suffer from is the Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments.

This is how Healthline describes the syndrome:

Imposter feelings represent a conflict between your own self-perception and the way others perceive you.

Even as others praise your talents, you write off your successes to timing and good luck. You don’t believe you earned them on your own merits, and you fear others will eventually realize the same thing.

Consequently, you pressure yourself to work harder in order to:

– keep others from recognizing your shortcomings or failures
– become worthy of roles you believe you don’t deserve
– make up for what you consider your lack of intelligence
– ease feelings of guilt over “tricking” people

The work you put in can keep the cycle going. Your further accomplishments don’t reassure you — you consider them nothing more than the product of your efforts to maintain the “illusion” of your success.

Any recognition you earn? You call it sympathy or pity. And despite linking your accomplishments to chance, you take on all the blame for any mistakes you make. Even minor errors reinforce your belief in your lack of intelligence and ability.

Over time, this can fuel a cycle of anxiety, depression, and guilt.

Living in constant fear of discovery, you strive for perfection in everything you do. You might feel guilty or worthless when you can’t achieve it, not to mention burned out and overwhelmed by your continued efforts.

Sadly, I think it is too late for me to do anything about it other than to cut myself a bit of a break from time to time.

Perfect is the enemy of good.

2 replies
  1. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Well said!
    And rest easy knowing that many people see all of your accomplishments both in career and as a musician as an inspiration!
    Best wishes!


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