Don’t give up the chase…

October 9, 2017

From a collection of inspirational sayings that I found on the internet comes this saying – “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi

For many years, Lexus used the tag line “The relentless pursuit of perfection” and they made excellent automobiles. They have been questioned for changing their tag line to “Engineering the impossible”, which is perhaps a little harder to relate to for the common man.

bored2In day-to-day living, many people claim to be (or at least, admit to being) perfectionists – people who constantly strive for perfection, sometimes to the consternation of those around them. Many times, if the object of their desire for perfection is a sport, you will see them practicing, doing something over and over until they master that aspect of the sport. For many, the inability to achieve perfection dominates their lives and makes them unhappy.

I think it is OK to constantly have perfection as a goal in whatever you are doing. After all, not striving for perfection as you do something is admitting, up front, that you willmediocrity quote accept mediocrity as a final outcome. One seldom hears cheers being lead that proclaim proudly, “We’re number two” or signs extolling you to “be good enough”. Rather, we see and hear, “Be the best that you can be”; strive for perfection.

Striving for perfection may seem to be a prescription for constant frustration and disappointment, but it needn’t be; rather it should be the constant goal that keeps us learning, evaluating, adjusting and improving. One should never stop asking themselves, “How can I be a better spouse, a better parent, a better sibling or just a better person?”

The dictionary defines perfection as – the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Perhaps the flaws or defects in our lives are our sins. Maybe if you start by striving for WWJDperfection in your religious life those other things will take care of themselves. At least we have one “perfect” example to try to emulate in our pursuit –  Jesus. Perhaps one of those little WWJD bracelets would cause us to pause and think before we act, before we say something or do something that would cause us to backslide on our pursuit of perfection.

We may not achieve perfection, but we might get closer to excellence in life if we stopped to think “What would Jesus do?” I’m pretty sure that He would not do anything that He would regret later or that would hurt someone else. Maybe that’s a good starting point for your pursuit in other aspects of life. Another thing that we will realize, once we embrace Jesus in our lives, is that he has already forgiven all of our flaws and defects. The grace of God that he died on the cross to give to us has already made us perfect, oncewoman-praying we accept Him.

So, never give up the pursuit of perfection in life; but, perhaps reevaluate your priorities and whomever you’ve been using as a role model for perfection and refocus yourself on the one role model who promises that you will achieve perfection through Him. Start with a prayer.

Have a perfect day.

Do your best and don’t dwell on what you can’t do…

March 29, 2017

I recently saw this tidbit of advice posted in a meeting room to define the rules for meetings in that room – “Don’t let the perfection be the enemy of the good.”

I thought about how often it is true that the pursuit of perfection gets in the way of doing just the good. Mercedes uses the slogan, “The best or nothing” and their rival Lexus uses “The pursuit of perfection.” Somehow, it makes more sense to me to constantly being in pursuit of perfection than to constantly do nothing if one cannot do it perfectly. That, after all is what perfection-1hard work and practice is all about – the constant pursuit of doing better, with the goal of perfection. What a sad world it would be, indeed, if we all just quit and did nothing, if we couldn’t be perfect at whatever we were attempting.

In our religious beliefs, perfection is a heady target to tackle. We have the example of Jesus to point to and many people wear little bracelets with WWJD on them, which stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” I find that to be somewhat presumptuous for anyone to think that they can somehow channel Jesus into their daily decisions or actions. Hopefully WWJDthey can learn from His actions and the stories that He used to teach His disciples and instead think of the question, “What would Jesus have wanted me to do?”

The answer to that question is likely to be something less than perfection and would focus around doing the right things, the good things, the things that you might hope someone else would do for you in the same situation. That is why it should be enough to stand on the line and serve food to the hungry who can make it into the shelter; rather than to do sewrving soupnoting because you cannot solve world hunger. It is enough to tutor one student to improve their reading skill and not sit and do nothing because you cannot solve the education problems of America. The solution (the pursuit of that perfect world) starts with the first person that you serve food to that day or the person that your tutor. There is no failure in the fact that millions of others may have gone hungry or cannot read. You did your best that day and did not give up and do nothing.

The real trouble with seeking perfection is that is so easy to let yourself slip into the role of loser when it is not achieved. Rosalynn Carter put it well – “You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try – you don’t take the risk.” Failures are just a part of the process of getting being kind 1to success. Even Warren Buffet, whom many believe to be the best investor ever, has had his share of failures.

So maybe the secret is to just focus upon doing your best at whatever task you have set out to accomplish and not worry about perfection. Don Miguel Ruis put it this way – “Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.” At the end of the day the question that you should be asking yourself is not, “Did I achieve perfection?”; but, rather, “Did I do my best?” If you can honestly answer yourself that you put the best effort that you could into the tasks, you will sleep well.

special olympicsThe Special Olympics uses the motto – “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” In the end, one should reward oneself for being brave in the attempt and doing your best at what you are trying to do and not get down if you did not win. If you have given your best and honest effort to the task, you have already won. In that private little victory you can be at peace with yourself.

Have a great day and give your best effort at whatever you decide to do.

The journey towards perfection…

July 11, 2016

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”  (John Steinbeck in East of Eden) as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today. Jack went on to write The Ten Commandments and The Sermon on the Mount seem to set impossible goals for us.  When Jesus says, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” how is that possible?  Is Steinbeck suggesting something less?  I don’t think so.” 

Neither Jack nor Steinbeck are suggesting that you accept as a fact of life that you are imperfect and always will be, but rather that you keep that vision of perfection in mind as a goal and a commitment in your life. Not being perfect at the moment doesn’t mean that Perfectionwe give up the pursuit of perfection (sort of like Mercedes with their cars).

There is a quality concept in manufacturing called “continuous improvement” in which a process of continuously analyzing things that go wrong, cost time or cause waste to see if they can be improved upon. Life is like that, too. We should always strive to learn from our mistakes, to make continuous improvements in our lives and our interactions with others. We may never achieve perfection, but we should never stop striving for it.

There is an old joke that the best way not to disappoint yourself or others is to set low expectations to begin with. So if you think of yourself as a bum, as unworthy or as a bad person, that self-image becomes self-fulfilling most of the time. On the other hand, if you acknowledge that you are not perfect, but keep as your goal to move towards perfection, you can have rewarding thought of the progress that you are making with each tiny step in that journey.  You can be good and know that you rare getting better.

So, don’t get down on yourself is you make a mistake or don’t get that promotion at work bored2that you were striving for or get turned down that date that you finally worked up the courage to ask for or perhaps suffered through yet another snub or social rejection. You’re not perfect. Life isn’t perfect. Accept the temporary setback, analyze what you did or didn’t do correctly to achieve that goal and try to learn from it. More important yet, think about how this incident in your life has helped you grow as a person.

Maybe you can now see and realize that some of your goals were not really as important as you once thought they were. Perhaps some of the things (or people) that you were pursuing have turned out to be superficial and things (or people) that you really can do without. The “OMG, I’ll just die if I don’t get it” has turned into “OMG, why did I think that was important?” Maybe it’s the “G” in OMG that is helping you see things more striving for perfectionclearly and putting life into better perspective.

Don’t beat yourself up about not being perfect n God’s eyes; rather keep asking in prayer, “Please God, help me to be a better person every day.”  God has the patience to wait for you on your journey towards that perfection for which he called upon you to strive.  Don’t give up on the journey and God will not give up on you. You don’t have to be perfect, but you must keep trying. I’ll see you along the way.