The Daily Stoic for March 14th. “Self-deception is our enemy”.
“Zeno would also say that nothing is more hostile to a firm grasp on knowledge than self-deception.”
—DIOGENES LAERTIUS, LIVES OF THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS, 7.23
Now this is an interesting topic. I think most of us fall into the trap of ego sometimes. For example, when we are really good at something, and we start to think we know everything about that. Or when we believe we are better or smarter than others.
That ego, and self-delusion are specially harmful when we think we are perfect, or are looking for that perfection as a goal.
On Ego And The Seek For Perfection
In fact, “perfection” is probably one of the most dangerous words out there. A lot of people seeks it: in their lives, in their physical appearance, in their mastery of a skill or knowledge… and that’s so wrong in my mind.
During the spring of 2007, I was playing in a band called Myzar, back in Murcia. However, I felt that I needed to create music on my own to express my own feelings and memories in a more intimate way. I quit my band and started learning to the play piano on my own. Just three months later, I composed and published my first self-released album.
When I listen to that album today, more than 10 years and 13 releases later, I can clearly see how imperfect it was. My playing technique was hideous -not that is has improved significantly during the years-, and my composition skills were still very poor.
Still, the album has a naive vibe and some imperfect beauty that more than makes up for it. If I had listened to the album before releasing it with a critical attitude, looking for perfection, I would have never published it. Probably, I would have never continued the project. The album is perfectly imperfect, and to this date, it’s my best selling album.
Perfection also means the end of innovation and growth. When we think we know everything, we stop trying our best to improve, learn and experiment.
Self-Deception Is Our Enemy
I will never stop learning, discovering new things, and trying to be a better professional and a better person. The day I consider myself “perfect” in any way, I will be dead.
Actually, playing the piano has shown me that the more you know, the more you are aware of how much you still need to learn. When I released my first album, I barely noticed my flaws, poor technique and terrible composition skills.
The more I studied, listened and practiced, the more I became aware of them, and no matter how much you practice, there’s always room for improvement.
It’s clear to me that I will keep on learning my whole life. And I really love that, I wouldn’t like to wake up one day with nothing new to experiment.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Self-Deception Is Our Enemy”, discusses how harmful ego is. I can definitely agree with it. I don’t believe in perfection, and I think that it’s in fact a dangerous word.
There’s beauty in imperfection. It allows you to have something new to learn every day. Life will just be so dull otherwise.