Letting Go of the Need to be Perfect

What would a world look like where Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ was a life philosophy?

As a biology teacher, I am intrigued by how our belief about how the world IS governs the way we act, and indeed the way we consciously or unconsciously believe the world SHOULD BE.

As Darwin’s theory of evolution has become part of our culture, so has it itself subtly become a selective force driving the shape of that culture.  The growing field of memetics studies ‘memes’ in a not dissimilar way to how evolutionary biologists study genes.


  1. an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation

In  a world where Darwinism is a philosophy of life (as opposed to a scientific explanation of biodiversity) the need to be demonstrably ‘the fittest’ becomes paramount.  The word ‘fit’ is in pop culture used to describe a person who is perfect in the eyes of the beholder.

One of the strengths of the enneagram is that it paints all of humanity as individuals with Cloud 1 (2)great promise, but who each contains the seed of their own destruction.  Furthermore, it recognises that destructive behaviour results from existential anxiety.  The most burning question for everyone on the planet is ‘Will I survive and thrive?’.

The first step of the enneagram is deciding which personality you are.  The moment you have decided, you are asked to simply accept that every personality, including yours, is like a coin:  it has what we tend to think of as a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side, but the ‘bad’ side is as much a part of the coin as the ‘good’ side.

I once had a friend who applied for a job at GCHQ (UK spy headquarters).  As part of the application process they were required to answer lots of embarrassing questions.  I asked if they were looking for perfect people.  My friend replied, “No, but they want you to be honest.  That way no one will ever be able to blackmail you.”

The enneagram takes the steam out of the need to be perfect.  It enables one to accept one’s flaws, but at the same time (and this is VERY important) does not provide an excuse or justification for them.  It gives each of us a personality-specific roadmap to help us escape the mire of our self-destructive faults without having to cultivate a perfect persona the whole time.  Surprisingly, this can release unexpected energy, as the energy which has been spent on APPEARING perfect is released to enable us to grow into the gifted individual that is the birthright of every human being.


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