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Progress, Not Perfection

Sign reading strive for progress, not perfection

Written by Haley Tunstall, Communications Director of ChiLiving, Inc.

“Sorry, I’m only human!” This commonly used expression implies that humans are inherently flawed– a direct contradiction to the definition of perfection. While we all know this to be true, many of us still strive for perfection.

The need to attain this unattainable quality inevitably sets us up for failure. Yet, we still fall into this trap.

In ChiRunning, one of the key principles is Gradual Progress: the step-by-step approach. Everything must grow incrementally, from less to more, through its own developmental stages, from smaller to larger. 

In fact, it’s the best model for succesful growth. Growth must happen gradually so that each step forms a stable foundation for the next step. If you skip steps, you’ll experience a negative effect on the process or the product/outcome. 

A simple example of this: You’re building a house, but you just can’t wait to move in already! So, you decide to skip the step of pouring a foundation to speed up the process. Ultimately, what happens? Cracks in drywall. Crooked doors and windows. Uneven floors. Your house crumbles! 

For example, good posture is the foundation of ChiRunning, which can never be perfect as we move moment to moment. 

Explained like this, it may seem like a no-brainer! But how many times have you set a goal for yourself expecting to skip to the perfect end-goal without being present along the way?

The only perfection is to be mindfully present during the process. By striving for perfection in any other sense is to not be present. The pursuit of perfection denies you the beauty in the journey.

Especially for athletes, perfectionism is the enemy! This certainly rings true for ChiRunners and ChiWalkers. Not only does perfectionism plague people to give up or not even start, but it puts many runners at risk for a number of issues:

  • Leads to overtraining
  • Increases risk for injury
  • Retards proper recovery
  • Risk physical or mental burnout
  • Decreases performance levels
  • Harms mental/emotional health

At Workshops, we often observe participants trying to get everything perfect, all at once. As we try to get runners to relax, they typically become very tense trying to relax correctly. Their need to perfect this focus works against their end-goal. 

Perfectionism doesn’t align with the Chi-mindset: Establish a link of communication between the mind and body– and the process becomes the goal!

The process is the goal! There are many more great benefits of ChiRunning, but I want to make the point that the ChiRunning method is holistic, which means that each of the components of the technique contributes positively to the whole by supporting the others to do their job. This aspect of the ChiRunning method also ensures that you don’t have to become an expert in all of the components right away. I’ve had clients benefit enormously from just one hour of learning how to improve their posture. Any single component will benefit your running, and when all of the components are working together, the effects can be nothing short of transformational.
(Excerpt from page 24 of ChiRunning)

On your next run, remember: It’s progress, not perfection; the process is the goal! 

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