In her 2011 best-selling book, Bossy Pants, Tina Fey, the award winning comedian, writer, actor, and producer looks back on her career beginning with her days doing comedy improvisation with Chicago’s Second City troupe and into the present with her work on 30 Rock and the movie Date Night. In one of the sections about her time as a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live she says:
“You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke until the last possible second, but then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, over-thinking it. You have to go down the chute…You have to let people see what you wrote. It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring on live television.”
I think a lot of people can identify with this. Lots of us have been that kid on top of the waterslide; maybe are even on top of it right now! I’ve been up there more than once and even today I occasionally find myself up there. For more times than I’d like to admit, it’s my self-centeredness and perfectionism that have kept me there—kept me from allowing myself to let go and whoosh down that slide!
Let me explain what I mean by that: If we think we’re the most important person in the universe (self-centeredness) or if we think we’re the biggest piece of you-know-what in the universe (also self-centeredness) we’re going to always be thinking that all eyes are on us; so in order to maintain that position we better be perfect. When we’re so concerned with our status and how we appear, we will dwell (often obsessively) on our appearance or the work that we generate—anything that we create or do—because it’s all about us.
If, however, we do as it says in the Hindu teachings found in the Bhagavad Gita, and let go of the fruits of our actions (let go of results,) and go about our lives performing our duties as an offering to God and to our fellows, it becomes a form of prayer, of sacrifice, and of sacredness. Instead of focusing on ourselves, preoccupied by how we’ll be perceived or received, we should go about our daily lives in the spirit of service. When we do that we quit thinking about what’s in it for us, and start thinking about how we can be of greater service to God and to humanity.
We won’t care so much about what others think of us or whether what we create or do is good enough or lives up to some sort of imagined ideal. If we remember this we won’t ever again be stuck up there on the waterslide over-thinking what it is we’re supposed to be doing or questioning our self-worth. We won’t question the value of what it is we do or wonder whether or not it’s perfect or acceptable to others.
Tina Fey is right. Perfect is boring.
So, let go, let God, and enjoy the ride!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION OR DISCUSSION
- Do you ever over-think things? If so, when and how?
- In what ways are you concerned about how others perceive you?
- What effect does that have on you?
- When you go about performing your daily tasks, either at home or work, what do you think about?
- How might you turn what your do into a prayer or an offering?
Please leave a comment below or ask a question. If you want to share this reflection use one of the tabs found below.
Bhagavad Gita/Chapter 2/Verse 47/Eknath Easwaran, translator
“You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself—without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.”