Perfection versus Excellence

Do you strive for perfection or excellence?

Do you expect your self to meet the same high standards all the time? Have you noticed that  you bully your self towards perfection, telling your self off for not achieving perfection and giving your self no or little praise for a job well done?

Or for you, is it the opposite? In knowing you will not reach perfection, you often do not try your hardest or may not even try at all, thus avoiding disappointment, ridicule and the effort of a thankless task?

Perfection- a tough master

I was given a different perspective on this recently and wanted to share it with you. Perfection is a tough master and may not be the best way forward to realise your fullest potential. In many respects, perfection is a moving goal post, never fully satisfied. It is not compassionate and is often harsh. In this competitive environment, with others and your self, it is often challenging to give fully of your self, to be open, authentic and self expressive. And yet this is what you must do if you are to be honest with your self and others in your work, life and relationships.

I was at a wedding recently. One of the readings was from ‘Gift from the Sea’ by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. As well as a beautiful message for the couple in their new adventure together, it offered a lesson to the audience about the ebb and flow of relationships, life, and love. I could discuss endlessly about this so what I want to do is focus on the ebb and flow of your relationship with your self.

Emotions- an ever- changing state

So often we expect so much of our self. In the pursuit of perfection we chastise our self for perceived short comings and rarely celebrate our successes. We are all dynamic, emotional creatures, changing state almost constantly. I can feel super confident in one moment, then moments later be filled with doubt. Perhaps you are the same or similar?

Anne Morrow Lindbergh alludes to growth being the only constant to:

  • grow in our abilities, to cultivate existing ones and develop new ones;
  • strive for excellence in all we do rather than focus on perfection;
  • give our self permission to fail so we may learn and become better at what we do;
  • manage our self more skilfully when we’re feeling weaker and more vulnerable;
  • push hard when we are feeling confident and strong.

Strength- meeting life’s challenges

Our strength is not in perfection. Rather it is in noticing where we are right now and learning how to meet life’s challenges wherever we are: in our self- confidence, shyness, fearfulness, joyousness, doubtfulness, excitement and all the emotions that we feel.

Surely life success is about understanding that ebb and flow within the relationship you have with your self and learning to marry that with the vision you have for your life? This requires love, compassion, care, patience, empathy, freedom, imagination, respect, accountability, giving your self a break and so much more. In short, the qualities for a long and lasting marriage that cultivates the growth in both partners.

Excellence- living an impeccable life

The marriage with your self is a life- long relationship and it is important to strive for excellence in that relationship. So that you may live an impeccable life full of meaning and purpose as well as mistakes and learning, so that you may not be perfect, rather the most excellent version of your self you can become.

Over to you

Do you strive for perfection or excellence? How do you view your relationship with your self? What impact does this have on your life choices? How do you choose to meet life’s challenges and your personal goals? I’d love to hear from you and your experiences of striving towards your life potential.

Why not………..

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2 thoughts on “Perfection versus Excellence

  1. The 80-20 principle is what I aim to adhere to with most things, however, the things I care most about, my practice and my family, I really do become a perfectionist at. That last 20% really does take a lot of time and energy!

  2. This is really helpful as a concept to keep my mind focused on i.e. aiming for the best I can do rather than someone else’s good enough. It’s something I’ve rather oat sight of recently and it’s helpful to be reminded of how much more life-affirming this approach is.

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