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Excellence vs Perfection


These last few weeks I have been mulling around the issue of perfection.  I am not a perfect person, and do not strive for perfection.  I envy, or have envied, those who are/strive to be perfect.  My mum was one of them.  She was a perfect pastry cook, (and she really was) nothing went out of her kitchen unless it was perfect in her eyes, however, and here is the interesting thing, nothing ever was perfect – to her.  She was never satisfied or felt good about what she produced. She could never accept compliments because she always felt she didn’t deserve them for less than perfect food.  Get my drift?

I often come across people who feel bad because they haven’t achieved perfection, but I can see total excellence, which is never good for them; it is not perfect, they are not perfect.

Wow, this perfectionism sounds like really hard work to me, give me excellence any-time.

So what is the difference, and does it really matter?

I found this on a blog a while back, and am so sorry but didn’t note the author (I do like to give credit when it is deserved, and it is here)

EXCELLENCE is the Willingness to be Wrong; Perfection is Being Right.

EXCELLENCE is Risk; Perfection is Fear.

EXCELLENCE is Power; Perfection is Anger and Frustration.

EXCELLENCE is Spontaneous; Perfection is Control.

EXCELLENCE is Accepting; Perfection is Judgement.

EXCELLENCE is Giving; Perfection is Taking.

EXCELLENCE is Confidence. Perfection is Doubt.

EXCELLENCE is Flowing; Perfection is Pressure.

EXCELLENCE is Journey; Perfection is Destination.

EXCELLENCE is Surrender; Perfection is Consuming.

EXCELLENCE is Trust; Perfection is Selfishness

(Source unknown)

So I prefer the concept of striving for “excellence” instead of  “perfection.”  Excellence is about setting a high standard for yourself and focusing on getting as good as you can possibly be. It is ultimately inward focused.  It’s about being as excellent as YOU can be.

Whereas the concept of perfection (at least the way I think about it) feels much more like an external standard. We are aiming to be “perfect” based on someone else’s standard. It is you vs an impossible-to-achieve-standard; do they ever achieve this standard of perfectionism? This may seem a bit pedantic – arguing over subtle differences in words, however your words reveal your thinking, and your thinking dictates your actions, and how you feel emotionally about your actions.

Lets look at an example.

Little Jonny is going to a fundraising school party (Children in Need), and parents are asked to send something in.  His mum works full time, cares for her ageing parents, has to do overtime to bring in a bit extra for Christmas, so she goes to the market and buys some nice buns and cakes.

Jonny goes with the cakes, mum isn’t stressed out, and funds are raised for the charity.  This is an excellent choice based upon her limitations and what is going on in her life. There’s no sense of failure. She accomplished what she needed to accomplish in the best way for her family.  Unless, that is,  mum is a perfectionist, where she will feel a sense of failure because she hasn’t baked the cakes herself.  She will judge herself against other mums who may have (or she thinks have).

Striving for perfection is all consuming and often unachievable, striving for excellence is often a joy and rewarding.

Food for thought (and it has turned out to be about food; something here to take to therapy for me, methinks!).

take care

Love Diane xxx

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