The Difference Between Perfection and Excellence

by Michael Saad
Difference Between Perfection and Excellence

Shoot for the moon, the saying goes, and at the worst, you’ll still land among the stars. In other words, you should always aim for complete perfection.

But should you really?

I really only have one main obsession and that is to get closer to my goals. It’s all about what works. So while the idea of a quest for zero defects sounds good, how does this superhero philosophy actually play out in the real world?

The problem is expectations.

My mother always said, Expectations are resentments just waiting to happen.

Now, my mom has said plenty of questionable things in her time (like don’t cross my eyes or they will stay that way), but this rings true for life, in my experience.

If you set the bar impossibly high, you’re only increasing the distance between where you currently are and the magical endpoint you want to achieve.

Make a mistake, fail or take your time getting there and, compared to the perfection of the end goal, it looks pretty bad. You feel bad. Your disappointment and shame overwhelm you. You don’t want to continue. You feel anxious, the stakes are upped and just like that, you’ve become focused on everything in the world but what you’re doing right there in the moment.

Instead try to be excellent, not perfect.

When you are excellent:

  • You make room for failure
  • You don’t try to control everything, only what you can control: your attitude
  • Your goal is not gospel, it’s a guide
  • You roll with the punches, take things in stride and have a sense of humor about the unexpected
  • You don’t get hung up emotionally on glitches, you just ask, “What can I do better?” and then do it

The irony is that sometimes, the more over-the-top the goal and the more unrelenting you are in reaching that goal, the more at risk you are for falling short and feeling crappy about it.

Brittle things break before they bend. Stick to goals that are flexible and can take a beating once in a while.

It’s OK… you can handle it!

What to do now?

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