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The Perfectionist's Handbook: Take Risks, Invite Criticism, and Make the Most of Your Mistakes by Jeff Szymanski, PhD

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Chapter 7

An Unexamined Life

Focus on Your Top 10 List

The Seduction: Everything Is Equally Important

I wake up Saturday morning to a beautiful summer day in Boston. The weather is perfect for tennis: the sun is out, there's a light breeze, and it's about 75 degrees. I got a full night's rest and have a light breakfast. I grab two bottles of water and meet up with my friend Mark to play tennis. It's not as if either of us play all that well; neither one of us has ever had a lesson. We stopped playing sets years ago. The point of the outing is to hit some tennis balls, get some exercise, and enjoy the sun.

Or so I thought.

As Mark hits yet another ball into the net, he is growing increasingly frustrated. I'm not sure why, since we aren't even keeping score. In an attempt to lighten the mood, I point out to Mark that neither of our world rankings is at stake. He laughs (kind of).

Two teenage kids take the court next to us. As they begin to warm up, both of us notice out of the corner of our eyes that they seem to be hitting the ball effortlessly. And hard. And in the court, almost every time. Watching them, it reminds me of some of the things I'm doing while playing today, like forgetting to use my legs when I swing and not moving my feet around enough. I shift my attention back to trying to improve my game. In contrast, Mark's irritation has increased. After missing the next shot, he yells an obscenity and throws his racket on the ground. I ask to take a break. Maybe he's just ...

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