Imagine my surprise when a 92-year-old woman asked to have a counseling session with me this last week. Figuring that it would probably not be about her marriage, her workplace, or her career plans, I was fairly confident it would be about a relationship (“Martha is driving me crazy!”) or something to do with a telemarketer’s offer.
As we sat on her comfy couch and had cookies and coffee, she began to tell me of her personal growth over the past three years. She told me about her negative mindset and the problems it had created over the course of her life. She told of the weekend in 2008 when she read in the Bible:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
When she read it “all the lights came on” and she determined that negative thinking would no longer dominate her life and how in the last three years she had been transformed.
It was a lovely story. But I was a unsure of exactly why she had called me – maybe she just needed a listening ear.
She reached out and she touched my arm. “I still have so much growing to do in other areas. I need someone to help me be brave. I need someone to help me keep on track. Would you coach me a little bit?”
I was sort of thinking/hoping that there would be this golden moment in life where there would be a sense of everything coming together and for one brief shining moment I could say there’s nothing more to accomplish. My sweet friend, and new client, reminded me that there’s always opportunity and time to reach for an even better life. There’s always room to grow.
(permission was given to share this story, and changes were made to protect my friend’s identity)
In perfection, there is always comparison with an external factor – another person, a previous attempt, a degree of accuracy. It connotes judgment, the rendering of a formal, authoritative opinion. This is acceptable when it comes to matters of law, finance or the manufacture of a product. It is shaming when used to define a person’s value or a person’s abilities.
Most dictionaries define excellence within the realm of a talent being possessed or a quality being achieved. And while excellence does imply the surpassing of a standard, that standard is not about attaining a goal but rather acheiving a consistent demonstration — of going beyond what is required, of surpassing the expected, of contributing value.
Perfection allows for either success or failure. There is nothing more.
Choosing to expect exellence, from ourselves and others, always provides opportunities for advancement and expansion.
Actor Kevin Spacey gives a very insightful response regarding success in this YouTube clip: