I am not a big fan of perfectionism though I am in awe of excellence. Watching the Sedins pass the puck, or my grandson laugh eating a mouthful of banana bread, or driving a Porsche 911 as fast as it should go — this is the experience of excellence.
But perfectionism robs the delight from a lovely object or a job well done. Perfectionism removes the joy from success and squashes creativity, courage and simple relationships while doing it.
You cannot find perfectionism and happiness in the soul of the same person — they are antithetical. Once a perfectionist succeeds, all he feels is relief, having dodged the bullet of failure one more time.
Perfectionism is the fear of failure. Whereas, excellence is the one who risks failure to succeed. There are excellent mothers and fathers, pastors and churches, kids and teens, students and professors (I am in the middle of marking academic papers from my teaching in Kenya last December), but none that are perfect.
Last week David (my son) and I went to hear Eric Bibb sing and play at Capilano University. An amazing concert with gorgeous sounds, and tearfully touching when Eric introduced 90 year old Leon Bibb, his mentor and beloved father. Father Bibb’s voice is not what it was perhaps but there was an even more excellent thing. Hearing the Bibbs sing with arms wrapped around each other, weeping with the friendship of many years, the music was transported. And here I was with my son. Excellent it was.
And more… I read a Psychology Today article on”Perfectionism” for a parenting class I am teaching this Saturday. It is worth reading.