We are obsessed with perfection.
Or, at least we think we are.
And by we, I am speaking of American culture (that is what I know).
Now, I don’t want to be that person that just rails on on modern culture and constantly reminisces about how “perfect” the past was (which is another way in which we obsess over perfection). In fact, I want to point out, rather, that perfection is not all we think it to be.
I propose what we really want and what will really lead to contentment and joy is a desire for things to be good.
We have all our heard our friend say, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” With a hint of sadness and disappointment, this statement is meant to be reassuring but is it?
Let’s look at the modern debate in the sports world of who is the better basketball player, Michael Jordan or Lebron James? Well, almost everyone will point to the fact that Lebron is 3-4 in the NBA Finals whereas Jordan is 6-0. Undefeated. Unblemished. Perfect.
People obsess over this stat. It is constantly used to discredit Lebron James, to point out his failures, to diminish all that he has accomplished. Why do we point out the past failures of a man and define who he is by them? Why do we not celebrate the fact that yes, Lebron has failed, he did have a Finals series against the Mavericks in 2011 in which he played significantly below his own abilities.
But how did he respond?
With an NBA Championship the next two years! In my opinion, no player in NBA history has endured the scrutiny Lebron James has. Every decision, every pass, every shot he has taken has been analyzed to the utmost degree. And the result? Many people are missing out on the greatness before our eyes because of their obsession with perfection.
Here’s the thing with perfection: It lives in the past.
It lives where nobody can touch it, where you can’t go back and re-experience it. It is a legend.
And legends… usually aren’t true!
Let’s reexamine the career of Michael Jordan. He lost to the Celtics and the Pistons during his first years in the league. His team had losing or barely above .500 records during those years. He didn’t win six straight championships, he retired for a year and a half and when he returned his team lost to the Orlando Magic in the playoffs. So, as we should have expected, Jordan does not have a perfect basketball career but we choose to focus on this one thing, this 6-0 record in the finals and it is robbing us of our present.
That is how perfection functions. It gives us an ideal that will never be reached.
You may respond, “Well, isn’t it our pursuit of perfection that drives innovation? It can’t really be all bad?”
I would say that there is a big difference between striving for perfection and striving to be your best self.
When you strive for perfection there is no room for error, one slip-up and it is all over, your chance at perfection is gone, and that is a crushing blow. One that you may never recover from.
However, striving to be your best self realizes that failure and blemishes are part of the experience. There is grace. There is forgiveness. And if you talk to most people of great success, it is through failure that they have learned their most valuable lessons, and it is because of failure that they now succeed.
So, stop letting perfection paralyze you.
Stop comparing yourself to others you deem as perfect, their not.
Give yourself the grace to fail.
Fail quick and fail often.
Because that is how we grow, that is how we move forward, and that is where real life is.
All things are not perfect. But all things were created and they were called Good.
Grace and Mercy ⇒ Peace and Love