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?