Strive For Excellence, Not Perfection

You may have heard the old saying, “You can learn more from defeat then you can from victory.” I believe that can be true. Often times what appears to be a setback at first becomes a powerful tool to move you forward with incredible drive and focus. You won’t always realize this at the time a setback occurs, in fact, it may take months before you can see the silver lining behind what once appeared as a giant black cloud.

I think it is important to understand that everyone faces ups and downs no matter who you are. Ups and downs are part of the road to success and keeping a good frame of mind will help you take it all in stride while you keep moving forward towards your goals.

If you waste time and energy beating yourself up over mistakes and setbacks, you’ll be missing the opportunity to learn from them and you’ll take away from your ability to perform your best in the present.

Some people, myself included, have what can be described as “perfectionist” traits. These people have a tendency to be pretty hard on themselves if they make a mistake or come up short of what they were aiming for. This can be a very counterproductive mental trap if you are not careful.

Nobody is perfect and no one will ever be perfect. Mistakes and setbacks are all part of life’s ebb and flow. Viewing setbacks as valuable learning tools will be an asset to your future performance, while being overly hard on yourself doesn’t do anybody any good.

I was reading through the book I’ve been telling you about, Thinking Body, Dancing Mind and I came across a chapter that specifically addressed perfectionism and that’s what initially got me thinking about this subject. I suppose I have always viewed perfectionism as a positive trait. After all, if you strive to be perfect that’s a good thing, right? Well, as the book points out that is not exactly true.

You see, striving for perfection sets you up for failure right off the bat because perfection is unattainable. This limits your ultimate performance by burdening yourself with undue pressure and anxieties. Rather than striving for perfection, the authors suggest striving for excellence.

This does not mean that you lower your standards or expect any less out of yourself. In fact, it is quite the opposite. By striving for excellence in all that you do and by taking away the pressure to be perfect, you’ll increase your daily performance and the enjoyment of what you are doing. You’ll be opening yourself up to be the best you can be. Plus, you will be more receptive to learn from mistakes or setbacks rather than harshly punishing yourself and spin into a negative downward spiral.

This also doesn’t mean that you will be happy about setbacks or substandard performances when they occur but you’ll accept them as part of life and part of sports, you’ll learn from them and then move on as better person and a better athlete.

As I was reading this, it gave me a great new perspective that I never really thought of before and it all made a lot of sense to me. Continually striving for excellence each day and doing the best you can without coming down too hard on yourself for not being perfect relieves undue pressure and will lead to more enjoyment of your activity and better daily performances. In turn, better daily performances strung together over a span of time ultimately lead to better results and greater levels of achievement.

Setting high standards for yourself and continually working to raise them is a wonderful trait that I believe most successful people share. As you are working to meet the high standards you have set and as you strive for excellence in all that you do, realize that you are not perfect and mistakes and setbacks are bound to happen. Don’t beat yourself up when they occur, instead remember that setbacks and mistakes can be valuable tools you can learn from and are a part of the road to success that we all must face.


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