How many times have you finished a job, or overseen someone who was learning a new task, and when it was finished said, “Perfect!”
Odds are there are more than a few instances where you did, or at least thought it. We’re taught, growing up, to strive for perfection. Straight A’s in school, flawless reviews as employees, mistake-free relationships, and more are the social expectations. It is one of the most unhealthy expectations I’ve seen in American society. I know from conversations with those who live in other nations, it’s the same there, too.
Pushing for perfection is anxiety inducing, esteem destroying, and ultimately unattainable. We are humans, not machines.I stumbled across Will Durant’s quote about excellence perhaps 10 or 12 years ago. When I first saw it, I took heart because to me, it said, “Ah! You can become perfect!” But that isn’t what it’s telling us at all!
Look at the word, “Excellence.” The first definition given is “the quality of being excellent.”
Huh. So it’s a state of existence? Interesting.
It comes from, of course, the word, “excel.” That word again refers to an active state of being superior, or surpassing others.
Being the best doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It means you’ve surpassed others. It means you’ve become someone who is a yardstick of excellence.
Now let me ask, if you’re the absolute best, is anyone else in the world in a position to look down on you for not being perfect?
Of course not.
Starting today, I challenge you to seek excellence, practice it, embrace it. Start small. Are you going to practice brewing the best cup of coffee you ever had? Will you look for ways to make your relationships stronger?
If you can’t stop thinking about applying this to your career, think of one thing you’ve struggled with and think about how you might overcome it.
Excellence comes from mastery of many thousand small parts. Pick one, become excellent, and stop stressing over someone else’s imposed thought process telling us we have to be perfect. I promise, excellence is quite good enough.