Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Peak of Perfection

Ideal. Slam dunk. Perfect.  Whether you will admit it or not, many of us think in these terms. We want our bodies, homes, things, relationships, other people to be the very best - perfect would be great! While having  goals and high standards is healthy and good, this past week I've noticed a theme of perfection that leads to a lot of treading water and arriving nowhere new.

In learning the piano, the thing I encounter the most within myself and my students is this desire and expectation that everything should be played perfectly the first time. When that doesn't happen, a couple of things can happen.   If you're like me, you are tempted to quit.  It's no "fun" to practice.  Or, like many of my diligent students, you take every measure painfully slow insisting on determining the exact correctness of each note.  While sometimes you need to just slug through a song to understand what you're doing, mostly you just waste a lot of time.  In demanding perfection, we paralyze the learning process.  However, allowing yourself to make mistakes but continuing through with the entire song enables you to get somewhere.  Before long, after pushing through (allowing mistakes here and there), you'll have mastered most of the minor problems and are left with 2 or 3 areas that you DO need to pick apart.

If you don't play an instrument, all of that might not mean much to you, but I think the same concept applies to all aspects of my life.  It's easy to be all or nothing with exercise and diet.  Expecting perfection and then when you foul up, what happens? Either quit all together or obsess over the mistake. Relationships - we expect the people in our life to treat us the way we need every time.  What happens when they don't? We write them off or retaliate. Your home - Everyone has an opinion on housework  and whats important. Don't we worry that everything isn't good enough or up to someone else's standards, perhaps our own? Either we spend excessive amounts of time ensuring that perfect home (sometimes to the neglect of others and other things) or we view it as impossible all the while beating ourselves up over not doing enough.

Here's the point: Perfection is a wonderful destination as long as we realize that its located in heaven. Extremes always come with a heavy price tag that usually isn't worth it.  Instead, accept that mistakes come and see the benefits that come with following through to the end despite them.

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