This morning I’d like to continue our weekly tradition of exploring a quotation from the perspective of finding time. Today we’ll look at two quotations, both of which I found in The Quote Garden. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out this wonderful site, you should give it a look!)
Here are the two quotations for today:
Nothing that is complete breathes. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin
Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. ~Harriet Braiker
These two quotations, together, get at the heart of the difficulties presented by perfectionism. What is the difference between perfection and excellence?
Excellence is always evolving and changing. You attain one level of excellence and then strive for the next. Each moment offers new opportunities for excellence.
Perfection, on the other hand, is where you stop. What could follow? There is something about perfection that is, at its core, inimical to the human condition.
Time may be an absolute, but we humans are not. We are ever changing and ever choosing. Where we intersect with time, excellence is always possible, but perfection is problematic, because it represents a kind of completion that has no place for further change. It’s hard to even conceive of – imagine striving to attain it!
From the standpoint of energy and motivation, when you are striving for excellence, it’s like you’re working away on your project with a marching band and cheerleaders on the sidelines – all rooting for you to do your best! Your creative energies are freed up and you are likely to attain the excellence that you seek.
Striving for perfection, on the other hand, is like working long hours, alone, in a sparsely furnished room. Your only company is your inner critic, who sits on your shoulder, looking for mistakes and correcting you at each step along the way. Your energies are cramped and you will ultimately feel thwarted and discouraged. Perfection remains elusive and your inner critic berates you for your failings.
What do you strive for? Do you have cheerleaders or critics in your inner world as you work toward your goals? Perfectionism eats up the energy and undermines the confidence of countless bright, energetic, and talented people. Are you one of them?
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Let’s explore time together …