Perfectionism is a barrier to Creativity and Growth

To begin with I would like to mention an incident from Paulo Coelho’s book ‘Like the Flowing River.’


Paulo saw a lady on the London street walking with ski poles as though he was skiing on the snow. When he learnt that it was actually a workout technique, he too decided convert his normal evening walks with his wife into skiing on streets. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. Later, Paulo somehow came across the rules to walk with ski poles. He realized he was doing it in the wrong way. From the next day onwards he and his wife started following the mannerisms. He discovered that it was no more a wonderful enjoyable experience. Worrying only about perfection made him lose the element of fun. The author finally got rid of the regulations and returned to the previous joyous ways. At the end of the chapter he asserts: “I don’t know why we human beings are so obsessed with making rules about everything.”


I think you may have already understood the point. Compulsions when they enter the field of creativity, especially in the initial stages of developing a skill, can make it a worse experience. Art and craft done with an intention to engage, immerse, enjoy, relax or refresh is good for you and limited focus on the output or emphasis on set rules worsens the creative experience. Since time immemorial art and craft have been a medium of expression. It’s all about letting your thoughts flow through your fingers and getting in the zone. Its often a means to let go of ideals and freely immerse in colors, strokes, lines, threads, intricate patterns, etc. Many artists confess that art for them is something spiritual and by bothering about conventions you will deprive yourself of the calming, healing, and enjoyable creative experience.


So what if each petal of your flower doesn’t turn out to be of the exact uniform size or shape? So what if your work doesn’t turn out to be as outstanding as the one shown in the photo or video which you were using as inspiration? There’s absolutely no reason to get demotivated. If you only care about rules and perfection, you might end up creating something beautiful but you will never like touching the pencil/brush/needle ever again. It’s, therefore, safe to say that perfectionism is the enemy of creativity and growth.


So the next time you choose to do something creative, whether art or craft, writing or music, remember to create an internal and external environment to help the creative juices flow — for me, it is playing my favorite soft songs (‘Ajeeb dastan hai ye’) — and dive into the world of creativity whole-heartedly keeping perfectionism far out of your reach. At Sprout Creativity, we aim to help anyone interested in leading a more creative life, and do visit our platform to learn more.