The greatest thing that ever happened to me academically was making a B in World Civilizations the Fall of my junior year. It was my first semester as a full time college student. When I got my report card it did not feel like the greatest moment of my academic career. I felt like a failure. My entire life I had strived for academic perfection and in that moment I knew I would never achieve that. My 4.0 was “crushed” and as silly as it may seem I felt like I could never recover from that.
The crazy thing is that ended up being good news. The next semester I signed up for classes knowing that I wouldn’t have all A’s no matter what. I took Physics and a challenging English course and loved them both. Sure, it still felt really good to have good grades but there wasn’t the same pressure of perfection I had the semester before. My grades weren’t my identity anymore. They were just grades.
Perfection takes something away from us. When I am trying to be perfect, I avoid failure at all costs. I don’t put my self on the line. I play it safe. I always feel like I could do better, even if I do my best. I won’t feel satisfied no matter what the outcome is because something will always miss the mark of perfection.
What else is there to strive for? We can’t just allow ourselves to slip into apathy or into underachievement just because perfection is unachievable. Instead of striving for perfection, we should aim for excellence.
Excellence is different from perfection. Perfection is about an image: a perfect reflection in the mirror. Excellence is about achievement: shattering the glass ceiling. Excellence can be achieved by a team and even if things go wrong. Perfection can only be achieved if absolutely nothing goes wrong.
When we strive for excellence we are able to give it everything we’ve got without fear of rejection. Think of it this way, have you ever been to a perfect event? I am talking about perfect weather, food, venue, hosting, and everything in between. The answer is no. It is impossible to host an event that is completely perfect. An excellent event is not only possible, it is obtainable. You can make any event excellent if you give it 100%.
Choosing to pursue excellence allows you to care without feeling like a failure. It is arguably more effective than a pursuit of perfection. It’s an invitation to stop comparing yourself and pursue what is pleasing to God. People, we aren’t perfect and its about time we stopped trying to be.