I have long struggled with the word ‘perfect’ and if I am honest have had a love hate relationship with how its meaning plays in my life. Partly because as a word in the context it is so often used, it has no defined meaning which frustrates me. Added to this is the power it yields, the unhappiness it causes, the quest for the unfathomable. Yet ‘perfect’ as a concept is an ideal which dominates almost every corner of our lives. From a perfect day, a perfect celebration, a perfect performance, perfect relationship, the list is endless!
Yet if I truly believed it was a word with no meaning, an aspiration which was unattainable, a cause not worth fighting for, why do I get the feeling I am trying to deny its value?: Added to which on a practical level striving for excellence, for perfection is fundamental in all I do. This has put me on a quest which will provide an intelligible understanding and thereby clarity and a context from which to redefine ‘perfect’ as a source for tremendous greatness.
A Eureka moment is often thought of as sudden and immediate but in fact is the result of months if not years of thought and rumination. This was the case with me when two mornings ago I had such a eureka moment. After two further days organising my thoughts, these are my conclusions.
Far from ‘Perfect’ being an adjective a descriptive word which is the way it is most commonly for the person doing the activity “I want to give a perfect performance”, “I want to have a perfect day”, “I want to be a perfect person”. In this context the focus is in the wrong place! ‘Perfect’ or ‘perfection’ should be the attitude the musician, the sports person, the chef, the lecturer, the writer, the parent, the partner or whoever it is!
It is the attitude applied in their practical intention; striving for perfection through skill or technical supremacy, some expressive communication, articulate understanding, accuracy consideration or a fluency and committed delivery, whatever the specialism demands. It is that uncompromising attitude applied in the fulfilment of each and every detail we give to all that we actually do is where we can measure in a grounded and practical sense that we are doing all we can in pursuit of perfection.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, to which I would add perfection and excellence. But if as the giver we aspire for perfection in each practical small detail, then as the recipient we will surely have a greater appreciation of what it really means to have ‘the perfect day’, to hear the most ‘gloriously perfect music’, to witness a view or ‘a sunset of total perfection’, to wonder at the astonishingly ‘perfect human skill’. It is as the observer where our insatiable desire to perceive perfect we hunger for in our lives can be found. But only if we know where to look as they are two sides of the same coin; the giver and the receiver.
Perfection and excellence are a form of caring and rooted in the emotional must be handled with extreme care. It is for this reason I believe ‘perfect’ has been the cause of so much anguish, its purpose so misunderstood, its potential to be such a powerful force to go that extra mile squandered as a lost cause, and with it floods of self-recrimination and castigation. Our reward is from measuring our attitude in striving for perfection and excellence to the smallest detail of what we do in a real practical sense, whether in our work or our lives. Where self-interest and self-validation is replaced by the striving for perfection in the task(s) we are undertaking in a very real and practical way. Then the true purity of perfect and excellence can be realised and thereby enhancing our wonderment at the perfection and excellence in others.