"Perfectionism" and Prosperity

RareFaith-perfectionism

We live in a time when life comes at us faster than it ever has in the history of the world. We get stressed, overloaded, and overwhelmed. Under these pressures, it is hard to remain calm… the state of mind necessary to live in harmony with the universal laws of success. Often we get discouraged and lose faith, simply because we spend so much time beating ourselves up for our flaws.

To qualify for the blessings we’re praying for requires a calm and confident state of mind. But when we’re disappointed in ourselves, it is tough to have faith. The problem is, so long as we’re not perfect, there’s always something to be disappointed about. So what do we do about that? How can we have peace of mind when we’re so imperfect? How can we achieve prosperity so long as we fall short of perfection?

Do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No.

In my book, Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Money Matters, I talk about how I had a perfectionist mentality for many years, until, after I married and had children I discovered to my dismay how literally IMPOSSIBLE it is to be perfect, even when you give it all you’ve got.

For a simple example, I’d make a commitment to study a certain amount each day or week, and I’d sit down to read… just as a baby in the other room would wake up and start to fuss. Or, I’d get the kids to bed and open my books just to hear some crying and then one of the toddlers would throw up.

It seemed that something always got in the way of my ability to make a commitment to myself and keep it. I had gotten pretty good at “self-mastery” before starting a family, but all that changed after the first baby. No longer did I have much say in how my time would be spent, even with all of my good intentions of living a disciplined, structured life.

Finally, one day I surrendered in despair. I realized I had become a cranky, sloppy person with the utter inability to finish anything I tried to start. Anything that did get done was done half-shod. I collapsed in tears and expressed to God how sorry I was that I was such a failure. I was devastated and confessed that I was doing the best I knew how, and that as poorly as I was doing, it was all I could do.

For the first time in years I felt Him really smiling down on me. It was as if He was saying, “FINALLY you realize your dependence on me! NOW we can proceed!”

Everything changed after that. How does this lesson apply to me now? I still have all the interruptions that come with family life… even more now than ever. In fact, a paper airplane just hit me in the head and I’m not even kidding.

I don’t have time to plan, prepare, and execute much of anything as perfectly, professionally, or impressively as I should. Let’s say I’m selling something, and if doing the presentation poorly could cost me the deal, I have two choices. I can either think “oh, dear… I did such a bad job” or I can think, “that’s just going to have to be good enough.”

Which mentality will bring success? Which mindset leads to prosperity?

Now that I know my best is never going to be good enough, and now that I know that God understands and is okay with that (so long as I really try), I rely on Him to make up the difference for my inadequacies. When I’m trying to do a good job and I blow it anyway, I think of Him and pray that He can make something useful out of my less-than-perfect efforts.

So long as I have believed that, I’ve seen miracles.

So then, do we have to THINK, BEHAVE, and DO everything perfectly in order for the blessings to come? No. We will not live the principles perfectly, no matter how hard we try. BUT, we can think of God when we come short, and pray for mercy.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, my husband and I made the mistake of trying to purchase multiple investment properties at the same time. The underwriters on every one of those deals became uneasy when they realized what we were trying to do. The first home went through relatively easily, but the second was more tough. The underwriters kept coming back with more unexpected hoops that we had to jump through, including having us show larger amounts available in certain accounts than what they had originally requested, as well as proving that those funds had already been seasoned for so many months, etc…

Each time we managed to jump through one hoop, they came back with yet another and another and another. Originally they only needed to see X amount in the bank and 3 months of payments in reserve. Then, seeing us as a risky investment, their requirements increased to something like X times two and 6 months in reserve, which eventually turned into a required 12 months in reserves plus a letter stating we weren’t accruing more liabilities, even though they already knew we were. It seemed as though they had long since decided not to extend the loan and were hoping we’d just give up.

After meeting their newly imposed requirements over and over, it eventually became impossible to do the next thing they asked. We were so weary that we were ready to just let it go. We had done all we could do. Then a simple thought came to mind: we don’t have to come up with all that extra money and we don’t have to do everything they are asking… all this would take is for one person in underwriting to simply have a change of heart.

Suddenly it all seemed so simple, because it was going to be so much easier for us to pray for one person’s heart to change, than to pray for another $40,000 (or whatever it was – I can’t remember) to show up in our account by the next day, WITH proof that it had already been sitting there for several months, which would have been impossible to do.

Having finally come to peace with giving it our best and letting go of the outcome, we emailed to let them know that we would not be providing them the proof of the additional unexpected funds they were requiring.

The next day, our loan officer called and said that there was only one final token request (something insignificant), and it would be a done deal. There was no more mention of the large sum of money they had wanted before. It all finally went through.

The point? “You need not run faster than you have strength.” When perfection is impossible (and it always is), God can make up the difference if you will ask for His help and then believe in Him. Do your best to only ask for those things that would be in your best and highest good, and then trust Him. (More on that…)

A woman prayed: “Dear Father, I’ve been doing really well today… so far I haven’t yelled at the kids, cussed, thrown anything around in anger, overeaten, overspent, or overlooked my responsibilities… I haven’t watched too much TV, nor driven too fast. I’ve been good natured and cheerful to everyone around me… But Father, it’s morning and time for me to get out of bed. From here I’m really going to need your help.”

That’s what it comes down to: reliance on that higher power. If you choose to believe that somehow, God makes up the difference between your efforts and what’s required, then it’s that very belief which puts you in the right state of mind to receive the blessing… even when you don’t “deserve” it. In all honesty, none of us really “deserve” it. Only by the grace of God are we even breathing. So, to reach our goals, what does He require? Belief. Belief that He has a way to make up for our failings, and asking Him to help.

So, believe you can achieve your ideal life. Do what you can, and then when needed, say to yourself, “this is just going to have to be good enough.” Can you see how thinking this way is in harmony with the laws of success? If we think we aren’t doing well enough, and if we think that our inadequacy will prevent us from succeeding, then we’re right. Trust God to fill in, believe that He will, and you can succeed.

I just got hit in the head again. I’ve tried to edit this article as I’ve gone along, and now that I’m at the end I really should run through it one more time to make sure it comes across the way I wanted it to, and make sure the sentences are readable and flowey, but a precious little 5 year old has been trying to get my attention for more than two hours, so… it’s just going to have to be good enough.

Originally published February 7, 2005

Added August 8, 2015: Those of you who have been following me for a few years know that those real estate investments didn’t go so well! So yes, be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it. Here are some related follow-up articles that you may find interesting:

Gurus are Human
Human Empowerment, In Perspective

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Are You Making it Harder Than it Has to Be?

When making a phone call, if you dial the numbers right, it works. Children who have never used a phone often have trouble making it work right for a while, just as we can have trouble making the laws of success work to achieve our goals.

It takes practice!

When a goal doesn’t happen the way you expected, it’s easy to get discouraged. That IS the COMMON thing to do. The uncommon thing to do is brush yourself off and ask the hard question:

“Where did I go wrong? What more do I need to know? In what way am I making this harder than it has to be?”

Most people ask those questions, rhetorically, but not with a real intent of finding answers. And in fact, sometimes they don’t WANT the answer, because it’s just easier to say, “That law of attraction thing doesn’t work.” Truly, it’s easier to blame our failure on things outside of ourselves.

On the other hand, uncommon people ask hard questions with a firm intent to find the answers. They seek for answers, even if it means they have to admit that there may be more to learn.

Uncommon people get uncommon results. Uncommon people enjoy an uncommon lifestyle. If they ask hard questions and find answers, then next time they pursue a goal, they can apply new understanding, and get better results.

Or not…

Here’s why: For me, this question / answer / new attempt process happened HUNDREDS of times before I actually saw it really work even ONCE. I know hundreds of ways it DOESN’T work. Each failed attempt showed me something else that I needed to tweak about my approach.

Think about it… The first time a kindergartner tries to use the telephone, chances are good that s/he will dial the number wrong. When that happens, it would be foolish to say, “This phone doesn’t work!” The PHONE works fine. The user just needs to be extra careful to dial ALL the right numbers, in the right order, with no extra numbers inserted along the way.

The law of attraction works FINE. You’ve just got to be careful to dial ALL the right numbers in the right order, and not insert any extra ones along the way. When you do it right, it unfailingly works the way it should.

And the good news is that when you see it work once, you gain confidence, and eventually realize that it can work for you EVERY time. In fact, it can become second-nature, just like using the phone. Then, after experiencing some success, you discover that it can even be easier than THAT… like discovering the redial button.

But I have some BAD NEWS…

The one element that does NOT go away, no matter how slick you are, or how smart you get, is the TEST to exercise faith when all appearances indicate impending disaster. Yes, no matter how good you get at the process, and no matter how much money you make, you’ll always get plenty of opportunity to exercise faith, make sacrifices, and stretch yourself OUT of the comfort zone to accomplish the next goal.

You just get to a point where you learn to accept the difficult nature of the process. Sorry to burst your bubble.

The knowledge I share here does not avert the challenges, it just gives you the power to overcome them when they show up… the power of subconscious goal achievement in spite of difficulty… the power to have PEACE of MIND through the process.

And yes, you CAN HAVE your victory. You can have the MONEY you need. You can find the job, or succeed in business… You can have the FREEDOM you seek!

Just try again, and learn from your mistakes. That’s how you win.

Find out what else you may need to know, so that you can achieve that oh-so-elusive goal. I want to help. Read the Jackrabbit Factor story free, so I can reveal the common mistakes people make with the law of attraction; or if you’re ready for more advanced answers, start the 12-week Mindset Mastery Program.

You can succeed!

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It’s PERFECT: The Mindset that Fixes Everything

I had one week left to prepare for an important event where I would be presenting some critical information about a business deal to some very important people. A knot would tighten in my gut each time I thought about it, but I consciously did my best to breathe deeply and relax, knowing the best outcome would happen, if I could only stay in a peaceful mindset.

The night before the presentation I wasn’t quite prepared, and I knew it, not for lack of trying, but merely for lack of time. I stayed up most of the night putting together the last of my research, trying to line it up to be a cohesive, logical persuasion for those who would be making a decision the next day. How well I did at the meeting could mean the difference between thousands of dollars down the tubes, or putting us potentially more than $100,000 ahead within 2 more months.

Not long before I was to speak at the meeting, I was given some new information about others who would be in the room whom I had not expected, which added to my pressure. Besides allowing myself to become overly concerned with ‘what should I wear?!’ I also had to be concerned with whether or not my equipment would work properly, with no time to test it thoroughly first.

As the meeting began, I knew I had done all I could possibly do to prepare. I had to trust that my best would be good enough, and that my faith in God would help make up for my human deficiencies. It would have to; there was nothing more I could do.

While I intellectually relied on God to make it all ‘okay’, I couldn’t seem to quiet my stressed-out, frantic heart. I was flustered, lost my train of thought frequently, and basically ‘blew it’. The opportunity to secure $100,000 slipped through my fingers as I pushed myself to just get through the meeting and finish saying what I went there to say.

I felt sick inside. What more could I have done? I had given it everything I had. I knew the principles. I knew that ‘when something is really, really horrible, it is in actuality really, really phenomenal,’ but no matter how hard I tried to think right, I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that it had been a disaster, and nothing more.

I tried to call my mentor to help me get my head back on straight, because I knew that was critical if I hoped to glean whatever benefit there was out of the situation. I HAD to think right, for I knew that my future circumstances depended on it. However, I couldn’t get through, and my messages were never returned.

Finally, I thought of an old friend of mine whom I knew would understand and could help. Why I didn’t think of her first, I’m not sure. I gave her a call, and she laughed with me as I told her how pathetic the meeting had been, and after I had let it all out, she told me one thing that made all the difference.

She said, ‘Leslie, the meeting was perfect. You did your best, and everything that needed to be said was said in just the right way. Those people heard just what they needed to hear, and anyway, who do you think YOU are to decide what should and shouldn’t have been said?’

I knew she was right. I had done my best to prepare, and I had turned it over to God. So who DID I think I was, to pass judgment on what God made of it? Suddenly, I began to consider that maybe my mistakes were exactly what God knew would happen, and what He allowed to happen because He had some higher good in mind for me and the others involved.

Who am I to say that the deal should have happened the way I had wanted it to happen, anyway? One thing for sure, is that when something doesn’t go the way I think it should have, it’s generally because God has something even better in mind, and He is working to knock off my rough edges to prepare me to receive the very best He has to offer.

I choose to believe that.

There are a lot of things I may never know about what ripple effects came out of that meeting. I have since been made aware of some very important ones that did. But if nothing more, it has given me a new tool for the times I am struggling to feel better about a bad situation. I tell myself now, ‘It’s perfect’ even when I don’t see how it possibly could be.

Even the most painful, difficult circumstances in our lives are ultimately for our good. They give us experience, they teach us right from wrong, they help us grow toward our greatest potential if we don’t fight it.

Okay, so I messed up a presentation. I don’t really have it all that bad, do I? Worse things have happened, and besides, in some way, I know that it was all for my good. I came away a little tougher, a little more compassionate, a little more trusting in God.

No matter how painful or embarrassing it was, it’s ultimately for your good and perfect for helping you reach your highest potential.

Whatever seems horrible in your life right now, you can choose to trust. Choose to believe that it’s the perfect thing for your personal development right now. As you calm down and believe this, you’ll find that doing so makes a huge difference in where your life goes from there.

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Hope Floats the Financial Boat

Think for a minute about the natural reaction of non-swimmers who are thrown into deep waters.

Can you picture it?

They panic, and thrash violently. They become consumed with the fear of, “What if I go under and can’t come back up?!” Full of adrenaline and to avoid the worst, they claw and pound the water, in a frantic effort to stay afloat.

Eventually, if they don’t get some help, they go under out of sheer exhaustion.

This is also a vivid metaphor for people who feel like they’ve been thrown overboard without a life jacket financially.

Maybe they intentionally “abandoned ship”, leaving a regular source of income to go out on their own in search of another boat, or maybe it happened in a storm. However they got there, they may feel like a non-swimmer, fully exposed to choppy waters, surrounded by mysterious depths, and at risk of drowning in bills and other pressures.

In a situation like that, the natural inclination is to panic, and work too hard frantically trying to stay afloat – ultimately wearing themselves out and sinking into despair.

The truth is, that the principles which keep a new swimmer afloat in the water are the same principles that keep you afloat financially:

1) Take a deep breath,
2) Relax, and
3) Keep your chin up


That’s how you stay afloat in the water, and that’s how you stay afloat financially, too.

Stop for a moment and let the following statement sink in (no pun intended):

Having money does not create peace of mind; it begins with peace of mind.

Before you can learn to swim efficiently, you’ve got to learn how to FLOAT. Not just in swimming, but in your finances, too. I’m convinced that people who enjoy true abundance live abundantly, not because everything always goes their way, but because they have learned how to float and swim in choppy waters without being overcome by exhaustion.

And floating only works when you stay calm. When you are calm and keep you chin up, you float; not just in water, but with finances, too. Staying calm allows your mind to be relaxed enough to notice the inspiration that helps you solve the problem. Don’t cut off the Source of your answers by freaking out!

The cure for fear is not courage, the real cure for fear is knowledge. When you know WHY you can be at peace, it’s easier to feel peace. Choosing peace of mind also keeps you in the path of all the opportunities and resources you’ll need. (Read Hidden Treasures FREE – to find out why this works.) Freak out, and you jump off the path.

Whether you leave a ship by choice or not, finding yourself in the water can be terrifying, especially if you never learned how to swim. But hope and optimism literally and financially make you more buoyant.

Discover the truth of this and you may also discover that swimming peacefully allows you to get where you want to go without a boat at all. (A shout-out to all you entrepreneurs out there!)

So, breathe… relax… keep your chin up… and trust the current to take you to the next boat or port on your journey to financial freedom.

For more on this topic, join me in the life-changing Mindset Fundamentals Ecourse – ($37)

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