Okay, so I should admit right off the bat that this post is really an exercise of trying to sweat it out with conflicting philosophies. It’s like I’m about to air my battling beliefs and survival of the fittest will dete...rmine which set of principles will come away victorious. Let the games begin… On the far side of the arena is the part of me that holds fast to being a recovering perfectionist. I am sold out to the belief that perfectionism is at best a fools’ errand and at worst, is a precipice that dangles us over the jagged rocks of judgment, anger, depression and every other nasty, unforgiving snare we can waltz our way into. Perfectionism is, and always has been, more of a way to conceal our flaws than to showcase just how wildly remarkable we are. Yet, in the same breath, I would consider myself to be a tenacious advocate for holding ourselves and those around us to ideals of excellence and achievement. With every fiber of my being I believe that, “what we are in anything is what we are in everything.” That our smallest actions are vital ripples of our most profound truths. That if we believe in something, stand for something, and embrace chosen ideals as our own, then we must do this always. Not when it is convenient. Not when somebody is going to notice and be in spellbound awe of our sheer awesomeness. We don’t get to choose one set of values when in the company of our conservative republican friends only to abandon it for a like-minded alliance with our unfettered pot-smoking friends from college who concern themselves with dime bags and donuts more than and fiscal policy and fund-raisers. Excellence is, and always has been, a stand-alone product. It must exist for its own sake. It must be given a lofty place in our lives based solely on the merit of how deeply it matters, not because of any accolades or applause we consider our due for being so enviably impressive. And achievement. Actually, not just any achievement, extraordinary achievement. To be sure there are as many ways to achieve epically as there are people endeavoring to do so. I can confidently bet the bank that what I would consider high achievement is something that other far more accomplished folks would sprinkle on their breakfast cereal in the morning. But if it is something that I have to push and reach and stretch for then it is my precious own, and I am allowed to end the day with a satisfied, “job well done.” The other day I wrote a letter to an extraordinarily accomplished women. In THIS endeavor my odds fall soundly in the opposite direction and there is a greater chance of Kim Kardashian and Kanye celebrating 20 years of blissful marriage than there is that she will ever come in contact with my communication. But I did it. I thought about it. I wrote it. I put an actual, real live stamp on it (paper square of approximately an inch in size with various pictures on it, which is sticky on the back and meant to be applied to something commonly referred to as a “Letter”). And for as much as it is our responsibility to strive toward exalted achievement I also believe it is our obligation to encourage others to do so as well. I am loathe to admit that I know FAR too many couples that either don’t bother to encourage one another or they themselves become the soul-sucking cynics draining the life out of those who are trying. Quite wicked really…when you think about it. So now I’m really going to hit you below the belt and share with you that a couple weeks ago our thirteen year old daughter said to us, “if your goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” Oh for the love of all things holy! I need to get busy! At least she announced her position so I know I need to step it up if I want to do that whole parental, “set a good example” thing. Okay, so over the course of dragging you through this post, I am needing to come to some sort of epiphany about how Perfectionism and Excellence and Achievement are absolutely and unequivocally NOT the same thing. Not even so much as second cousins three times removed. Am I being duplicitous to not just advocate, but INSIST on Excellence whist resolutely shunning the plague of Perfectionism? In a word…no. Excellence demands that we push. It expects us to be afraid and to do it anyhow. It REQUIRES failure where perfectionism would have us avoid that messy, unsavory experience at all costs. Excellence and Achievement are things which beg us beyond the limits of what we are comfortably confident about toward that which scares the hell out of us. Perfection fights for us to expend enormous amounts of energy impressing others. Excellences wages its war on behalf of our very selves, our soul and our brilliant potential. Perfectionism is the sentry at the gates, barring us from the victory of becoming all and everything God intended us to be. Make no mistake about it, these two philosophies are NOT on the same team. I suggest you pick your side carefully because if you have the guts to choose the virtues of Excellence and Achievement, your road is destined to be paved with trials and triumphs. But the after party is guaranteed to be AWESOME.