Our Story: Seeking Perfection

Frankie The Creative is packing our bags and traversing the Indian Ocean to Australia’s second-closest neighbour, Indonesia, on a one-way ticket. Why? We’ve always wanted to. From the time we first met in 2008, we always talked about life overseas. But one thing stood in our way - life. From finishing high school, taking a gap year to fund university, finishing university, starting a corporate career, starting startups - we never found our break. ‘Our break’ - looking for the stars to align. We kept setting new goals, new targets, new life benchmarks we had to hit before we made the move. We were seeking perfection.

Seeking perfection seeped into different aspects of life - like installing 6 different news apps to ensure a balance of news sources, staying up until the mid-hours of the morning during university to finish everything (promising not that we left everything to the last minute) and waiting on the perfect overseas position for an internal move. I (as in Lewis) wanted the best. I wanted everything to line up how it should be to move on. And I wanted to keep everyone to be content. The result - burnout. I left my corporate role a week before the World Health Organisation recognised burnout as a medical phenomenon. Exhaustion was reached for many different reasons - but I’d postulate that a large part of it was the alignment of seeking perfection.

How I came to this job was a skillset that sprayed across full-stack marketing. But how I got there was a lot of our favourite childhood game - connect the dots. This 2005 speech from Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement address, in which he quotes, ‘you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards’, is a huge revelation in that whatever perfection you’re seeking, may not turn out the way you tried to align. But instead, may turn out imperfectly perfect for you. For me, going down the marketing path was never on my agenda - instead, a career in diplomacy was in my sights. I hadn’t even planned on studying a Bachelor of Media - but career guides advised me to pair another course with Bachelor of International Studies. But, from there, playing football at the Uni Whites with film directors, networking with a local MP through a fashion blog to gratis influencer trips - saying ‘yes’ to a plethora of opportunities strung a whole heap of dots onto a cork-board ready for the twine to connect them. I didn’t know what those opportunities would lead to, but I just did it, without thinking too deeply. The only foresight I had was a shrinking workforce within traditional media industries, and a need for multi-disciplined digital media professionals, and thus the greater the array of marketing skills I could learn, the better off I’ll be for hirability. Of course, there are issues that arose from being a ‘yes’ person, but more on that in another piece.

A new concept I’ve come across recently is Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset. The concept talks to life in progress and the development of self. Growth mindset is contrasted against a fixed mindset - an ode to unhealthy perfectionism. Seeking perfection leads an individual to a perceived end goal, arriving at an unchangeable state. Instead, onboarding a notion of growth mindset, and its take on failure - ‘when I make a mistake, I’m able to learn from it and get better’. The power of words to influence your mindset and actions is, of course, an overstated, yet important, statement.

“Can you not call it ‘seeking perfection’, as I don’t believe in perfection”. That was Frances’ advice as she leant across and saw this blog piece. After laughing noting that it’s not the point of the article, but rather pointing out that this is the reason I wanted to write this. I queried her as to why she doesn’t believe in perfection. She rebutted with everyone’s definition of perfection is different. Person A’s good enough menu design is perfect for person B. But person B is an amazing chef, and a throw-together meal for them is absolutely perfect for person C’s palate. For us, a perfect getaway is to a Slow Stay like HideyHole Hut, My Sister & The Sea or Ode to the Orchard. However, other’s would much rather a city getaway in a 5-star hotel, and in their eyes would find that to be perfect. Moving away from this construct of absolutes of seeking perfection and instead, doing things you love.

Too many times I saw myself asking friends how are they doing what they love to do. Too many times was I self-sacrificing. Too many times I've seen myself burn out because I was too guilty to have downtime. I recommend getting away for a weekend - be good to yourself - and just spend time doing nothing. It's cathartic. Recognise that it's a long path ahead to removing the concept of perfection out of your head, and not always a linear path either, but consider that you’re doing it for yourself.

Now, where this path has led us. I left my corporate job, where I wasn’t completely satisfied; Frances was a part of a round of redundancies; and we saw the stars align to move overseas on a one-way ticket to Indonesia. Since then, we’ve received a once in a lifetime opportunity to start working with Friends of the National Parks Foundation in marketing communications in Bali, Borneo and Nusa Penida, which a couple of months ago, we would’ve never achieved, as we were striving for a VERY different perfect next move. Well, for us, this is as near the p-word superlative as possible. But we know that this is going to be an amazing part of our personal growth learning curves.

What’s your take on seeking perfection?

And of course, if you’re in Indonesia, or have travelled to Indonesia before, are there any recommendations you can make? Drop us a line, connect with us, let’s collaborate.