As I watch the Summer Olympics in Rio, I am constantly amazed by the strength, focus and determination exhibited by the athletes – both young and old. They come from all over the world to compete against the best of the best, to earn the Gold. I’ve heard time and again that so-and-so “settled for” Silver or Bronze. And it made me wonder what message this sends to us everyday people, the run-of-the-mill joggers, swimmers, yoga and yes, even pilates practitioners. Are we letting “Perfect” get in the way of “Good”? And is there something wrong with just being “Good”?
In my pilates journeys – as a student, then a teacher, and now a teacher trainer – the one thing that has stuck with me is that pilates is a practice. No matter what path you’re on – it’s an ever-evolving discovery of what your body can (and sometimes can’t) do. I believe in focusing on the good, welcoming the good, encouraging the good. Perfection is over-rated, and often, not ever really “perfect”.
The majority of my clients are, for the most part, striving to be good. Sometimes they struggle. Life gets in the way. Sleep, diet, other exercise play a role in how we feel and what we bring to the pilates workout. Every day is different, and every day I strive to find that one good thing that can be celebrated, instead of all the other not-so-good things that can be picked apart. Yes, it’s important to know what you need to work on, what your homework is. But it shouldn’t overshadow that some (or more!) of what you do is always good.
In the very first pilates teacher training weekends that I teach, I always tell my new group of (very nervous) teachers-to-be, “I don’t expect you to be perfect. I expect you to listen to the feedback you’re given, be safe, and know the order. Make some progress from the first day to the last day.” In other words, just be good. Just do your best, because after all, isn’t that good? Some teachers get so caught up in doing everything down to the letter, and get so worked up into a frenzy over the smallest words/details/phrases, that it takes the enjoyment out of teaching (it also bores and sometimes discourages the students who work with them). We become teachers to share this fabulous method called pilates. The best teachers are good. They know their stuff, they might make a mis-step here or there, but they can recover. They are motivating, enthusiastic, and fun to be around. They’re good.
Allowing yourself to be good can take the pressure off. You know that you’ve given it your best shot. You celebrate the good that is happening today. Maybe tomorrow (who knows?), more good will happen. Maybe not. But who cares? As long as you strive to be good, what else is there? Let go of the idea of perfection and be your best self. Be good.