Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Perfection vs. Perseverance

I have a confession to make:

I am a perfectionist.

What? You already knew that? It's painfully obvious? Oh. Okay. That's cool, too XD

Being a perfectionist has its pros and cons. Unfortunately, it has mostly cons. As humans, we're always going to fall short of perfection, and beating ourselves up about it isn't a good way to live.

Sure, when you're a perfectionist you are always (well, mostly XD) striving to be perfect and do your best. That's a good, right? Doing your best? Absolutely! God calls us to do our best. He wants us to use our minds and bodies and talents to the best of our ability to serve Him. If we don't use our gifts, we're like the servant in the parable who buries the money he's entrusted with. That's really poor stewardship of what God has given us. So, doing your best is good.

But then there comes a point where it's just too extreme. And that's where I am most of the time. Lots of times, I get to the point where my line of thinking is "If I can't be perfect, I won't do it at all."

You can imagine how many things I've passed up, decided not to go for, chickened out of, and otherwise refused to try, all because I was afraid of failing. That's when perfectionism goes too far: when it stops us from trying things altogether, simply because we might not excel right at first.

Like all opposites, "perfection" and "failure" go hand in hand. You can't really know one until you've experienced the other.

Making mistakes is going to happen. Failure is going to happen. Failure twice at same thing will probably happen. The real honor is not in never failing, but in trying until you do get it right. That's not perfectionism, that's perseverance, and that's really twice as good!

Next time you're hesitating to try something, remind yourself that it's okay to fail. Perfectionism is for the temporarily lucky, perseverance is for the strong at heart.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt


Elizabeth said...

Encouraging post for us poor perfectionists out there :). I've chickened out of a lot because of the fear of failure too, even the occasional homework assignment. But I'm determined to persevere and overcome my perfectionism :P. And great quote, I hadn't heard that before!

Sam said...

The whole 'If I can't be perfect, why do it?'
...*raises hand shamefully*...
You're very right, though. I mean, I've missed out on stuff because I don't want to fail.
Sigh. Stupid high standards.

Tunafish said...

I guess I'm pretty perfectionist, but instead of giving up I treat whatever I'm doing more like a duty and hate it every moment I'm doing it, thinking that it's gonna make me look really stupid. That's not really what I should do either... I guess the best thing to do is to trust GOD that He'll teach us through the experience, that we'll grow and become more like Him. It'll strengthen us and make us bolder. With GOD's strength we can do all things so fail is not an option. We might not do everything perfectly but GOD knows that and our best is all we can give. That's what He accepts and rewards us for. He takes our best and uses it to change lives and do miracles. Praise GOD! =) Jesus loves you!