Something’s missing in today’s world, in the culture that envelopes us, in the church, in each of us if we are honest. I am finding we have lost something, something very valuable and important. We are facing a lost art, something that has slowly, quietly, disappeared, like mist evaporating in the morning sun. I call it THE LOST ART OF EXCELLENCE.
Personally, I have lost it and I want it back, for myself, my children, future generations, and for the world as a whole.
Over time, a shift occurred in mankind’s thinking. I believe it has reared its ugly head in many forms throughout the history of this world, especially with the invention of TV, computers, digital everything, and the internet, but it has crept very subtly into our lives and stolen something that once was cherished and beautiful.
There’s just so much availability of EVERYTHING out there. Some new way to dress, cook, walk, work out, do your job, improve your self, fix your this, train your that, always someone or something presenting a BETTER WAY, the NEXT BEST IDEA, the PERFECT HOW-TO. There’s this constant suggestion that we haven’t arrived or achieved THAT until we do THIS. Know what I mean????
As a human race, we have traded excellence for perfection and lost something very valuable in doing so: our abilities to do something WELL, with a sense of personal responsibility, and a concern for quality.
Two things have happened with this great shift from excellence to perfection.
Number one, THE ATTAINABLE HAS BEEN TRADED FOR THE UNATTAINABLE. Bottom line, NO ONE is perfect, NO ONE will ever attain perfection, and NO ONE will ever be satisfied trying to reach for the unreachable.
Watch an hour of Little League sports, whether its soccer, baseball, or football. We push our children to be perfect, to swing the bat perfectly, to catch the ball every time, to run the fastest and hardest and then wonder why they end up hating the sport or worse yet, themselves because they couldn’t get it right every time!! I have watched in horror as a ten year old had a melt down under the bleachers and listened to a parent yell at their child to concentrate harder, pay attention, try their best, and to get it right! (No pressure!) I almost wanted to have a melt down as I listened to the parent berate their already pushed-to-the-limit, tired, thirsty, hot child.
Number two, SATISFACTION HAS BEEN TRADED FOR DISCONTENTMENT. A job well done with a heart for excellence provides for a sense of satisfaction, knowing you have done your best. And it’s YOUR BEST, not his or her best idea. It’s simply YOUR BEST!
Or the opposite of this: A job that must be done with a goal of perfection provides for a sense of dissatisfaction, simply because someone or something will always be better than you or what you have done. It’s just true.
When we shift from EXCELLENCE to PERFECTION, we lose one of the most valuable elements necessary for any person: GRACE.
There is absolutely NO ROOM for error when you desire perfection over excellence. Your gauge has changed from EXTREMELY HIGH QUALITY (the definition of excellence) to FAULTLESS (the definition of perfection) and obliterates any room for second chances, do-overs, and improvement with Divine Help (which is my definition of grace).
So how does this have anything to do with life or jobs or relationships???
Most everyone has kept a close eye on the 2016 Olympics and without naming names, we can conjure up faces of Olympic athletes who strive for excellence or those who strive for perfection. As we sit on our comfy couches and stuff our faces with soda and chips while watching people who have decided to never touch a soda or cheeto for the rest of their lives, we tend to expect PERFECTION out of these people with the perfect bodies and skills to perform flawlessly for the gold medal. (God forbid they only get a silver or bronze!!) We are disappointed if they are one bazillionth of a second or point away from the gold.
But honestly I want to watch an Olympian who desires EXCELLENCE over PERFECTION because I know they won’t be crushed with disappointment, failure, and rejection and become another headline athlete who turned to alcohol, drugs, or suicide because they couldn’t “measure up” to the unattainable standards placed on their shoulders. I want to see someone who did their best, who exhibits extremely high quality skills, yet who doesn’t place a demand on themselves to be faultless, only excellent.
My relationships with people are the same….I want to surround myself with people who desire EXCELLENCE over PERFECTION because those are the ones who INSPIRE ME TO LIVE LIFE WITH “HIGH QUALITY” STANDARDS instead of PERFECTIONISM who expect me to please them all the time and get it right every single time. There is no room for grace in these kinds of relationships. More importantly, I want to be someone who inspires others to the achievable goal of excellence and not place unrealistic expectations of perfectionism on them. (Just a side thought…..what does this do to your relationship with your spouse or children?)
Like me, do you know people who hop from job to job, church to church, or person to person, looking for the PERFECT job, church, person??? They always come up empty and unsatisfied because they are looking for what doesn’t exist.
Perfect…..I can’t do it. You can’t. We never will. We aren’t made to live perfect lives, only excellent ones.
Perfection shuts the door in the face of those people and things and circumstances in our lives that can actually be the very avenues that drive us to live EXCELLENT, HIGH QUALITY, VALUABLE existences. Your spouse, children, family, friends, job, achievements, skills will NEVER reach perfection. Neither will you, dear human!
Make room for flaws…..we all have them. And we can all grow and learn from them.
Make room for a new gauge….one that hones in on quality and not flawlessness.
Make room for grace…..you need it. I need it. Those in your world need it from you. Without grace, there is no room for real, vulnerable, honest, thriving relationships. You shut the door on that when you open the door to perfection.
Let me share my life-verse with you….II Peter 1:3 (ESV)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.
Do you see that???? God has given us the power for EVERYTHING in our lives, as we get to know Him, the One who wants us to strive for excellence instead of perfection!!!
Remember, He’s the GREAT GRACE-EXTENDER! Take it for yourself, then extend it to others. Strive for excellence and ditch perfection! It’s a life-changer.
In the comments below, tell me your thoughts on this topic. I love to hear from my readers!!
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