“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” (Vince Lombardi)
We know a scary thing has happened to our world when achieving nothing is often times more appealing than achieving something that is less than perfect. When the mere thought of an imperfect outcome, is enough to derail our productivity, kill our creativity and squash our dreams, it’s time for change. Trying to be perfect borders on that ‘all or nothing’ mentality that slams the door on the desire ‘to do’ in many situations. The desire to be perfect starts in grade school when we first begin to learn about grades… A B C D F, Above average, Average, Below Average, Pass, Fail, Needs Improvement, etc. But what have these labels done to those that really were trying their best at the time?
What about the pursuit of excellence? Excellence is defined as the quality of being outstanding or extremely good or possessing an outstanding feature. It is something attainable, achievable and though vague in its definition, 100% within reach. As Aristotle described it, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
It takes time, training and effort and has nothing to do with trying to be perfect or achieving something concrete. Perfectionism actually gets in the way of excellence and turns the achievable into something that will never be. In situations in which we place a priority on aiming at perfection, we are being powered by fear rather than passion. Trying to be perfect turns the focus on you and away from the goal or achievement and it’s easy to lose one’s way. Striving for excellence on the other hand, is about progressing – a little at a time towards. Plan or no plan, you move ahead, slowly, but surely. Placing a high value on growth allows us to appreciate each progressive step, besides teaching us the virtues of patience and appreciation.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s very important to take pride in doing things the “right” way but there will come times when you are reminded that your best is all you have to give. There will be times when good is good enough, even if there are mistakes. No one is ever going to be perfect and without mistakes along the way, we would never really learn all that we should. During those moments in your day that you find yourself thinking or saying, ‘this would be perfect if only…” or ‘the only thing that is missing is…” say to yourself instead, today, I have all the tools that I need and I am one step further than I was yesterday.
We should all strive to create a world full of curiosity, creativity and inspiration and above all- excellence. Visualizing perfection is only going to prevent us from going after the things we want and going the places we should go. Balls to the wall-visualize moving forward, one step at a time. Don’t let perfection get in the way of your pursuit of excellence or cast shadow on the precious steps of progress it will take to get you there. Moving forward is the only thing that really matters.