Friday, October 1, 2010

Striving for Excellence or Perfection?

Do you strive for excellence or perfection?

There is a difference.

Awakened early this morning with thoughts running through my mind; I heard myself ask aloud; "why do some strive for perfection instead of striving for excellence"?

Throughout my life I have watched people who spend endless amounts of energy and exhausting amounts of precious time in life striving for perfection. Yes, that too, was once me. This debilitating mentality leaves an individual seeking to perfect everything they do and everything they are; that they think will lead to some esteemed place that doesn't exist.

I think that a perfection mentality is a personality flaw. It is haughty and unrealistic. You will find that most people who live with this perfection mentality are very controlling, manipulative and condescending because nothing or anyone can measure up to their perfect little world that they "perceive" is perfect; yet this perfectionism perspective is far from reality.  I was raised in a perfectionist type home and it took me years to realize this was destroying my peace, bringing me down and ruining relationships. It has also taken me years to cognitively and behaviorally readjust and to let go of this mentality that will leave a person distressed event after failed event.

Of course, if you are operating with a perfection mentality it will be extremely difficult to even acknowledge or see anything less than perfect. So, listen to those closest to you who express their disharmony, disaffection or subtle digressions from you; because being around you makes them feel less than perfect and is a constant reminder that they cant live up to that or be anywhere near your perfect world that makes them feel like a failure. See the sign below...There simply is no perfect place and there is no perfect human being.

Why? Because perfection is a perception and not a reality.

Let's look at perfection.

To be perfect means that something or you is perfect and without flaw. This truly is our own perception; well the perfection perception. Surely someone would come along and find that what an individual deemed as perfected would not meet up to another person's  view or standard of perfection therefore ruling out the truth that something is perfect.

I know, I know. Quite philosophical and complex; some might even say that denying perfection is a defeated mentality but look again closely and think about it!!

I mean it really is quite simple.

Striving for perfection is possible. I mean the striving part. But, you will keep striving and striving and striving because the unrealistic part to that statement is that reaching perfection is humanly impossible!

It is a set up for failure. It will keep you from actually achieving excellence.

Excellence vs Perfection

In a post I recently submitted on my personal facebook page this is what I wrote:

I am perplexed at what prompted this analysis. Perhaps this journey of life and watching people (including myself, family and certain friends) struggle as they strive for perfection had me searching. My father was a perfectionist and yes I believe we inherited (lol) this perfection trait or what I now call a flaw.    I have personally came to the realization that this perfection trait had to go because it was stealing my joy and making me feel worthless.

When I let go I felt liberated and free to excel in striving for excellence instead of perfection. 

I believe striving for perfection steals our joy, our human-ness and drive for excellence. When you strive for perfection you walk passed excellence seeking that perfect you, that perfect someone or that perfect something. I like not being perfect and love striving to do my best (excellence). Those who strive for perfection actually live discontent lives unable to attain the perfection they seek from themselves and others. Most perfectionists will be lonely driving away everyone around them who they believe cant live up to their perfect world.

It seems that perfection and striving for it; leaves an individual with a fear of not fulfilling something perfectly. Fear attracts anger, frustration and chaos. We will choose not to entertain certain things in life because we will fear not doing it perfectly or falling short of it being perfect. Therefore, striving for perfection becomes a debilitating factor leaving a person feeling inadequate, insufficient, and lacking.
When we strive for excellence we can give it our all and our best knowing it is achievable because our best is our best and it will not be perfect. Someone can always do better and someone will always be worse; there simply is no perfect. Have you ever heard or seen something or someone say "There, that is perfect" only to watch or see someone else come along and do it better or find a flaw with what you called perfect?

Of course you have! Unless your in denial.

We set realistic goals and they can reached when we strive for excellence and not perfection. Perfection demands control and holds strong judgemental attitudes while excellence promotes humility, positive drive, joy, faith and accomplishment.

Those who strive for excellence will see others following them gladly. Sadly, perfectionists will drive others away and encounter loneliness, sadness and confusion as to why they are alone and why they cant seem to ever quite get it right. Simply put some of us just cant seem to keep up or live up to the perfect world that others seem to live in; idealistically!


Perhaps because this perfect world simply doesn't exist.

From my Christian perspective; and humble opinion; which I understand not everyone will agree with, I personally found that when I accepted a life in Christ and realized I am loved unconditionally in my human-ness with all of my flaws yet accepted in HIM and that HE died for me, forgave me and set me free; I was set free from being perfect and set on a road to strive for excellence until the day of perfection when I am in His perfect presence.  

As He dwells in my heart in His perfect-ness through my fallen-ness, weak-ness and human-ness I am able to achieve excellence as I progress through life striving to do the best that I can and achieving the achievable; Excellence.

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