My wife and I work out with a trainer twice a week, in a small, private gym. The other day, one of the trainers was debating with his client about her perspective. The client was explaining her belief that perfection was out of the question for her, so therefore, she wasn’t interested in “working that hard.” The trainer replied, “No, no. You’ve got it all wrong. We always strive for perfection and we manage the falls. If you don’t strive for perfection, then you can’t manage the falls. And if you don’t manage the falls, then you end up in a free fall, and that’s not good.”

I LOVE THIS. “We have to strive for perfection and manage the falls.”

If perfection (or something close to it) isn’t a target, then how in the world can we fail our way to success? If perfection isn’t a target, then can we really and appropriately learn from our mistakes?

Looking at failing, or “falling,” in this context, the only way to put mistakes into the proper perspective is to hold them to a higher standard. How many times in our lives have we blown our mistakes out of proportion? When that happens, I believe that it’s out of frustration from not having the proper mindset to see mistakes as a part of any process, as teachable moments and as “fixable.”

When we look at the differences between the most successful people and those who are less successful, the standards they hold themselves (and others) to are typically different. What’s fascinating to me is that the less successful people tend to unfairly judge the more successful. They think that to be that successful, those people must be unfairly hard driving and unforgiving jerks. The irony is that it’s the least successful people who tend to be unfairly hard driving and unforgiving.

The most successful (and likable) people I know are typically focused on becoming the best version of themselves they can be, and they have confidence and trust in a “happy ending” that only a mindset of abundance can produce. They hold failures and falls to a higher standard, seeing them as part of the process. Successful people understand that striving for “perfect” means that you aren’t perfect now, and the only way to get closer to perfect is to pay attention to your imperfect moments and learn from them. The unsuccessful tend to fake perfection by being intolerant of their imperfect moments and blow their lid at the simplest of errors. Such a perspective tends to produce a draining energy field around them that repeats over and over again (“free fall”), unless or until something drastic happens.

If you are reading this and you have children, then you undoubtedly understand that we love our children enough to want perfection for them, and we address mistakes they make along the way as teachable moments that are an expected part of the development process. We see all that’s possible for them and we want to take an active and positive role in helping them be the very best version of themselves they can be. Why wouldn’t we love ourselves enough to do the same for us?

Let’s up our game. Let’s hold ourselves to a higher standard. Let’s want more for ourselves. Let’s adopt a more abundant mindset. Let’s strive for perfection and manage our falls.