7 Aug 2014

Perfection not required

Do you remember the first step you took in your life?

I’m assuming the answer is no. I’m also assuming that even though you did not yet operate on conscious thought and memory, you took that step anyway; fearless, confident, and determined, even though you had no idea how it would go. An act of lunacy?!

Of course not. Somehow you managed to get up on your own two feet, and because undying curiosity and the desire for autonomy are the two drivers of toddler life, it wasn’t a question of whether you would take that first step – but when. The moment finally arrived not because you were prompted to – but because all preparations were in place.

You didn’t really care how it looked, and while you inevitably chose one foot to start with, it didn’t matter all that much. All that mattered was where you were (here), where you wanted to go (there), and that hunch that your body could take you there.

In a way, this is the underlying foundation of how we learn movement, and it should be the foundation of how we teach movement, too. When we can sense our own abilities (to keep us safe) and construct a progressive movement task/desire/challenge, it always starts with that first step.

Sometimes it’s clumsy. Floppy. Wrong. Ugly. Laughable. It’s definitely not perfect – but it makes for a much better second step.

Like any perfectionist will tell you, the only way to feel closer to perfection is to clear imperfections in a repetitive process, one at a time, beginning with the second step. They will also tell you that perfection is not a state that can actually be reached, and certainly not without endless, ongoing work. Of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it, but in the meantime, maybe we should approach every step just like that very first one we took:

Perfection not required.