Little Miss un-Perfect

The Pinnacle

I’ve never understood striving for perfection. It’s unattainable. It’s the pinnacle I never want to reach. For if it’s attained, what more is there to achieve?

Choir of Praises

Most know that working and working to achieve perfection is a waste of time, but somewhere along the way striving for perfection was drilled into us. It’s at the very core of our existence. When we were young, we worked and worked at achieving something for the accolades we knew would be coming our way. If only we did it right. If only we worked more, we’d hit the mark and hear our praises sung. Our self-worth became dependent on the compliment or two thrown our way. But in doing so, we hung onto the words of others and worked our hands raw, because as children the mark kept moving higher. You could never, ever truly hit the mark. You just kept working and working toward perfection. As an adult I’m telling you, perfection is unattainable. The mark never stops moving.


Striving for perfection is an addiction. Most perfection addicts falsely believe that achieving perfection indicates excellence. But perfection and excellence are two different things.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states perfection as a) freedom from fault or defect, flawlessness, b) the quality or state of being saintly, c) an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence. Excellence on the other hand is a) very good of its kind, b) eminently good, c) first class. Two similar, but totally different degrees in terms.

Who wants to be saintly or flawless anyway? Not I. No siree. I like being a little devilish, a little flawed. Ok, depending on who you ask, quite flawed. Regardless, I don’t demand perfection, but I do demand excellence.

Eminently Good

The driving force of my excellence comes from within. I know I want to be eminently good. First-class. First rate in anything I do. But I could care less what other people demand of or expect from me. I don’t live for them. I live for me. I answer to my own higher conscience, and if it’s good enough for me, then by golly, I’ve hit my mark. If it’s not good enough for them. No worries, they can spend the time to work it and work it to get it perfect. No skin off my nose.

To the Best of My Abilities

As a member of Toastmasters International, a public speaking club, in both my leadership and speaking roles, I strive for excellence to the best of my abilities. And therein lies the difference between excellence and perfection. To the best of your ability.

I was terrified when I stood up to give my first speech. Just tell the audience a little bit about myself. If I had strived for perfection that first time up, I never would have gone back to Toastmasters. I would have run out the door with my tail between my legs, or my hand over my mouth, never to look back. In expecting perfection, I never would have become president of the club, nor gone onto win public speaking contests. But because there were goals outlined in the manual, for newbie speakers, I just wanted to hit the mark for those goals. And I did. I had attained excellence for what I was aiming to achieve that night. Looking back now, I’m sure there were countless ums and ahs, long pauses and stuttering in that first speech. But in the end, who cares? I wasn’t laughed off the stage. I hit my mark. I achieved excellence. But not perfection. And that’s ok. If I had walked off that stage as Little Miss Perfect, I would have missed out on so much in learning from others, in pushing my comfort zone, and in becoming a better speaker.

The Average Joe

A fellow Toastmaster gave his third speech this past Tuesday. Was it perfect? Hell no. But was it excellent? You betcha. Even the content of the speech was right on the mark. He said in this day and age, if you ask an audience how many members believe they give 100% at work, guess how many people raise their hands? One hundred percent raise their hands. Know what that means? The average Joe gives 100%. Everybody does. Or so we think. With those odds, in order to be noticed or to move forward, then you better be giving 110%. Do you need to be perfect? Nope. But do you need to demand excellence? Absolutely.

Excellence I can handle. But I don’t ever want to be perfect. No siree, not me. I rather like being Little Miss un-Perfect.

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