Sunday, October 08, 2006

A perfectionist confesses

One of the less than perfect gifts that my mother gave me was her streak of perfectionism. Hers was expressed in always worrying about whether something was right and trying to do that thing, whatever it was, just a little bit better. Her satisfied was great for most people. Mine expresses myself in two ways. I either get things done immediately and turn it in or wait until the last moment. Either way I can say I didn't have time to do a good job.

But whether I do it mom's way or my way that streak of perfectionism is slightly flawed. And the flaw is that one can't take pleasure in the moment or the job. One is always looking for the problems. And, while there are prolbems and while one should do their best, a perfectionist beats themself up if everything isn't, well...., perfect. And that is the enemy of the good.

If a perfectionist goes on the dance floor then they don't just want to jave a good time with their partner, they want to do moves like those of the professionals on a national or world championship. And that is destructive of the good, for it concentrates on the less important matter of how well one dances when the perfectionist should be dancing with their partner.

That streak of perfectionism that some of us have can be used for good. It is wonderful to see someone who has practiced for years move on the dance floor, but only if kept in the proper place. The discussions in scripture between Jesus and his followers show that we should be concentrating on our relationships rather than how we do things.

Perfectionists can achieve great things, but sometimes they miss the more important things along the way. So I've started working on (more than a few years ago) recovering from that perfectionist streak. It's not easy, since some of the old habits remain, but it is for the better.

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