Stubbornness Leads to Success!

I have always loved a challenge. When I was three, my brother (three and a half years older) was learning to tie his shoes. I didn’t want him to “beat me” at anything, so I insisted I learn to tie my shoes at the same time.

Not a typical milestone for a three year old to reach, I set out to master the task and ensure my brother wouldn’t leave me behind. I remember how frustrating the endeavor was; not only was the actual mission of convincing that slippery bunny around the tree and into its burrow a complicated and potential dangerous one (that bunny would sometimes run around that tree in so many different ways, he ended up in knots- very counter productive), but in an attempt to avoid the potential temper tantrum that ensued after every failed attempt, my father or mother would chirp the mantra “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again” and I would drag myself, kicking and screaming, back to the laces at hand.

Even though I was working against the odds, I did learn to tie my shoes when I was only three years old and became the official shoe tie-er (and shoe tying instructor) of my pre-school.

As I got older, I did not lower my standards for my own achievements. Just this past weekend, after cooking a killer Thanksgiving dinner, I told my mother I will always strive for perfection in everything I do- Big picture: I will never be perfect, but I can try and bake the perfect apple pie, or write a flawless blog entry. If I keep reaching for the stars, I will continue to better myself and my work (domestic, professional, social, religious, etc.). My mom replied that constantly striving for perfection will only lead to continuous disappointment. While I have certainly had my fair share of failures and each failure is usually accompanied by a temper tantrum (much to my family’s dismay), pushing through, trying again, and striving to be better than before encourages determination, creative thinking, organization, cooperation, collaboration, education… need I go on?

What do you think? Is it a good idea to continually strive for perfection, reaching small goals, but always fall short of the big one? Or should I accept where and who I am right now and feel accomplished, but fail to grow?



  1. I think that striving for perfection is another way of saying you’re always trying to do the best you can do at everything… I think that’s fantastic and you learn so many skills and so much about yourself and others. Keep it up (and I love you)

  2. I don’t know what perfection is, since it can be different things to different people. I prefer to think of it as believing in dreams and that dreams can come true. Or as Thomas Jefferson said “I am a great believer in luck, the harder I work the more I have of it.”

  3. Stephanie my darling daughter, continue to strive for perfection, althought you may never reach it, the journey will be most rewarding. Forget what your mother said about dissapointment. Life can be full of that. Run with your true self always, it is what will make you most happy.

    Love Dad

  4. This is indeed a thought provoking topic.

    Should we strive for perfection or accept defeat and mediocrity? What a question! Your argument assumes that there are only two choices, perfection or defeat and mediocrity. You love the black and white, the right and wrong, and “gray” is very challenging, but there is a whole world in between, and the longer you are on this earth and the more discernment you gain, the more often you realize that perfection is only attainable in theory and mathematics, and only simple mathematics at that. Perfection is a myth. This is a fact I came to face when I was about 30 years old, and I admit that to many people it is a challenging concept and a big disappointment.

    Your apple pie was A++ quality! It was a pie of EXTREME EXCELLENCE. Was it perfect? We who love you are eager to say “absolutely”, but I do recall a couple of complaints YOU had about it on Thanksgiving day. Are we grateful and did we enjoy it? ABSOLUTELY! But perfect? Where is there such a thing? Only in TV commercials! Get out the airbrush for the magazine picture! Even pies cooked by professionals need a little touch up.

    As your mom, above all things I want you to be happy. In that interest please let me fill you in on those shoe tying weeks. It was your dad who kept telling the little toddler to “Try, try again.” I was the one picking you up off the floor day after day, drying your tears day after day for three weeks and saying, “Honey, you’re a great, smart, adorable kid, and fabulous even if you can’t tie your shoes four years ahead of schedule.” And after you did learn to tie your shoes, Toni (your day care teacher) and I would sneak around behind you and retie them each time, so that the loose little bows wouldn’t slip apart and cause you and your little friends to trip and fall on your faces on the sidewalk leading to the playground.

    to be continued>>

  5. I feel the need to suggest that acceptance, overall, hardly
    equals failure. Falling short of perfection is essentially the
    nature of humanity. Acceptance in my experience is a spiritual
    achievement. Hard work and struggling to learn, striving toward
    goals, showing up every day for life; these are the touch stones of
    progress in life: spiritual and otherwise. And yet, where and who
    you are IS perfect, and where and who you are supposed to be in
    this moment. Buddha once met a person walking on the road and that
    person asked him, “Are you a God?” Buddha said, “No.” The person
    asked, “Are you a spirit?” Buddha said, “No.” The person asked,
    “Well, then, what are you?” Buddha said, “I am awake.”

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