Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Perfection doesn't exist.

I was born in April, well barely, my birthday is the last day of this month, the 30th, and I will be 24. April is always a tough month for me, it’s like my new years. I start reflecting on my life and I can be very tough on myself. I start to feel like I haven’t done enough…there is a lot I want to do with my life. I am somewhat of a perfectionist. Sometimes I am so bothered if I am not perfect that I will quit. I was someone who was in every activity growing up- dance, piano, track, singing… I have a lot of talents but I haven’t mastered any of them. I think that’s what bugs me. I want to be a master at something in my life.

As I was reading the O magazine (2006, April) (Oprah's magazine-- check out http://www.oprah.com/) for this month, I realized that it was all about aspiring to be excellent in whatever we do. One of the quotes used in the magazine is "strive for excellence, not perfection" ~ H. Jackson Brown Jr., author. The article that spoke to me the most in O is “The Pleasure of not being perfect” by Roger Housden (see http://www.anthologiesonline.com/collections_by_roger_housden.htm). He talks about the “results-driven culture” of ours (this is a global culture). You haven’t succeeded until you are able to quantify your results in money, in stocks, in real estate, in published articles, the perfect family (spouse, two kids and a pet)—the list goes on. Also we are always trying to improve ourselves, always. But he says something interesting “Ultimately, working on yourself –trying to change the basic programme—doesn’t rally work, because limitation, imperfection, is built into our genetic code…perfection was never meant to be part of the human experience” (p.101, 142). So what’s the point if we don’t try to be perfect? Well, it’s about the idiosyncrasies, the nuances that make us all different and unique. What does perfect mean anyway; whose definition do we use?

I think that perfection = the absence of failure. This issue of failure (probably my biggest fear), is a part of life but it’s all about perspective. It was Thomas Edison (inventor of the light bulb) who, after many trials said “I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Each failure or mistake is an opportunity to learn. Confucius (Chinese philosopher) states "our greatest glory is not in never failing and falling, but in rising every time we fail and fall"-- it's about personal development and working harder. Not to be perfect--but to excel.

As I embark my 24th year on this earth in two weeks, I want to have an attitude and perspective of excellence. As my other blog states you cannot plan for the ups and downs in life but you can plan an attitude towards the rollercoaster of life—a positive, enthusiastic and realistic one. Perfection just isn’t realistic.

There are so many roles that we fulfil as human beings---daughter, sister, friend, woman...someday wife and mother. My mother is an excellent person-- she's excellent at every task, from the most mundane to the most exciting or taxing. I used to think she was perfect, but that's not true---perfection doesn't exist. Also one of the most inspiring traits is that being around her you also want to be a great person--she encourages excellence in everyone she meets.

"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralising" ~ Harriet Braiker


Blogger Cyrille Mutombo said...

I like this post Rochelle. I find so many things you talk about in me. Being good at almost everything became bitter to me some years ago, and I struggled a lot. Someone helped me and taught me exactly the same thing: run after excellence, not perfection. But it was still tough as I did not see where or what to focus on. At the same time, other people rather told me, find your area of specialization. To make it worse, I had already embraced an interdisciplinary programme: development studies. One of my former professors told me, this was the ‘dust bin of university programmes. You have everything in one and at once’. I was about to give up! Thank God as I did not. Today, I am proud to see that I am good in any scientific or academic discussion. At the same time, other people have found a niche and specialized in it, ..And I think that’s the beauty of diversity.
Wish you excellence!

9:13 AM  

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