The perfect event. The perfect relationship. The perfect retreat. In past chapters of life it might have been the perfect budget, the perfect plan, the perfect staff team. In the stories I make up ahead of time, EVERYTHING is going to be perfect. I am world-class at creating an idealized future reality. I think it’s been that way my whole life... With zen-like ease I will pose the perfect question and have the perfect response. My partner will do exactly what I think should be done and the group will respond with just the right perspective and glean just the right learning. The team will continually optimize performance and achieve stellar success. There will be confetti parades and I will bow gracefully with just the perfect mix of humility and confidence.
And, God help anyone around me when my scene of idealized perfection begins to crack and become the inarguably imperfect human reality. Just ask my kids. Or former co-workers or subordinates. They’ll let you know that when faced with something less than the idealized perfect outcome, I can be surly, snappy, and even a bit salty. Ouch.
How’s that working for you, Vince? Well, it stopped working for me a long time ago.
The “driving-to-be-perfect” part has in fact produced some remarkable results throughout my life… revenue growth and capital expansion, early promotion to the executive ranks, recognition and affirmation by professional associations and peer groups. There is a very positive side to this part of me and I owe it much of my current sense of security and freedom. And, given the state of things in the formative years of my life, I can see how this “driving-to-be-perfect” part of me helped create a life that was far outside of the family norm. I appreciate this part of me.
And, it’s gotten me into a fair amount of trouble… distancing and loss of intimacy in personal relationships, unfair dumping on unsuspecting kids, colleagues, and subordinates, internal angst and fear that has spilled out on myself and others… Yuck.
What to do you want to have happen?
It seems that the challenge of mid-life has been about accepting both the perfect and imperfect parts of me. It’s been about recognizing that there is both good and bad in all of us, and in just about every situation, and that’s the way life is. It’s what we do with the good and bad that defines our character. And, the action I might choose today is different than what I may have chosen on another day when “driving-to-be-perfect” was in the driver’s seat of my life. Because, today, there is little need to drive to be perfect… because I have arrived… and it is perfect. Perfect in its imperfection.