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Nick Saban a perfectionist? Maybe, maybe not. Jody & I met while were were attending the University of Alabama and saw the Tide win two national championships back then.
Saban wins partly because he has standards that he holds his players to. If standards are high enough, then perfection is the end game. Now, I say all of this to tell you that if you have standards yourself that flirt with perfection, then you are probably making your self/spouse/kids/employees miserable.
There are three simple reasons perfection isn’t worth it:
1. SEEKING PERFECTION GUARANTEES DISCOURAGEMENT
Think about it. Perfection means you must compare where you are currently to where you can likely never get in this lifetime. It’s like trying to catch the horizon (good luck with that). When you compare your results with perfection you lose perspective. When you compare your results with the past you gain perspective. Back in the late 70’s there appeared a pop button ‘PBPGINFWMY’ which stood for, “Please be patient; God is not finished with me yet.” If you aren’t there and there is basically unachievable, then bummer.
2. SEEKING PERFECTION IS A TIME VAMPIRE
In the 1600s Bishop Joseph Hall noted that “Perfection is the child of Time.” That’s really the best shot we have…enough time with enough tweaking and maybe, just maybe, it can be perfect. As Sweet Brown put it, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
3. SEEKING PERFECTION DOESN’T MATTER ENOUGH TO MATTER AT ALL
98% is plenty good for almost everything (and the other 2% just ain’t worth it). Think about college— a 98 and a 100 are both still an A(+). Is the energy required for that extra 2% worth it? Rarely.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have standards, nor am I saying we shouldn’t strive to do our best (whatever that is?). Instead, I’m suggesting that on the extreme of having perfection as a standard simply doesn’t produce much practical good in any endeavor.
In our writing training we encourage students to work from OK to GET HELP to MAKE IT GREAT. In this way people can get started. Frankly, you can’t start with perfect. I’m also pretty sure you can’t end there either!
I’d love your thoughts!
Off to learn,Fred Ray Lybrand
P.S. If you want the shortcut to ending perfectionism and the other mistaken ways we think about how to ‘do’ life…check out our course on MASTERING EMOTIONS
Everyone likes to argue, especially when they get to be about 12 years old.
“No, Dr. Lybrand, I have a quiet 12-year-old.” Well, maybe you have the exception, but something is wrong. Quiet people just argue in their heads, while other-than-quiet-people argue out in the ether.
Plain Fact #1
Arguing is thinking. It is natural for humans to think, and debating an issue or question through is a keen way to think. You really don’t want to crush the talent for thinking in anyone…especially because learning how to think means they’ll have very little competition at work someday 😉
Plain Fact #2
Arguing is a developmental stage for humans which matches the design of the brain. In classical educational understanding (Trivium), the game works roughly like this—
1. Grammar/Data Stage (ages 1-10)2. Logic/Thinking Stage (ages 11 -15)3. Rhetoric/Communication Stage (ages 16-21)
It works out that every subject you learn in life follows this form. You must understand the parts (Data), then understand how the parts fit together (Logic), before you can then use your understanding with others (Rhetoric/Communication).
So, having a child who likes to argue (or an employee who does the same) isn’t bad, but it needs some direction. This energy easily moves into writing, because WRITING IS THINKING. Here’s the simple thing you can do when a child gets animated about a subject or issue [one of our kids often preceded their argument with “They’re idiots…” We never consistently conquered this ungracious expression of frustration till adulthood ;-( ].
Here’s what I recommend when you get your child to write about the issue that is frustrating them (the issue they are trying to think through):
1. Ask them to answer this question, “Why are you so sure that _________?
Asking for them to explain why they are sure means they’ll need to generate evidence (proof in data or proof in logic, or both). When we express the basis of our conviction in terms of evidence, we often see the flaws ourselves. It is SO FUN to watch a child figure out their own bad thinking!
2. Ask them to explain exactly why the other side thinks the way they do.
Frankly, if you can’t argue both sides, then you don’t understand the issue. This is, in part, what the court system was intended to do…give the best argument both ways for a judge/jury to impartially decide (comment: sadly in court, ‘winning’ became more important than ‘truth’).
So, have your debater write using these two essentials. Even better, have the paper read and discussed together at supper or over ice cream. Everyone will benefit! Also, as a final thought, when your child is arguing with you about what he/she does/doesn’t want to do, these points will work well for you. Just ask (for example):
1. Why are you so sure that I’m wrong to (require you to clean your room before you go out)? 2. What are the reasons you think (I want you to clean your room before you go out)?
It’s not a cure-all, but it will be a big deal as they grow that you direct their unction for arguing! Also, you’ll at least help them become a GOOD lawyer!
Off to learn,
Fred Ray Lybrand
P.S. An added part would be for you to write your own short ‘essay’ about your side. Understanding both sides is the key to maturity and resolution. Too bad we can’t get our political leaders to give this a try ;-
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