No one is perfect, but boys, making the effort to be perfect…is what life is all about…If you’ll not settle for anything less than the best, you will be amazed at what you can do with your lives.
This morning I woke up with that quote on my mind. It ran through my head in the background of my thoughts the way an annoying pop song will get lodged in there sometimes. Only today as I stood in front of the coffee pot, empty cup in hand, it was Vince-growling in my head- yammering on and on and on until I finally had to pay attention to him.
“What are you doing in my head?” I asked. “Why are you bothering me? Why don’t you be quiet and let me drink my coffee?”
A few sips of the black hot liquid and with journal and pen in hand, the answer to my questions started to ebb into my brain. It was all Steph’s fault and Brett’s fault and James’s fault and their round robin Blog discussion of Buzz Lightyear which lead to Faking It which lead to comments from Steph about perfectionism on her blog In Other Words in the comment section. All the rest of the day yesterday I mulled over some of the comments on her blog. Striving to be perfect, the dangers of trying to be perfect, how trying to be perfect can actually help us to strive to improve and be our best. Check it out. It was very thought-provoking. I should know. It provoked me.
Ahhh, perfectionism…my old nemesis. Vince Lombardi. The ultimate perfectionist. No wonder he was up there floating around, preaching at me, nagging at me, haunting me from the rafters.
I got up from my morning coffee, reached over to the bookshelf and pulled out my worn down copy of Winning is a Habit. It is a small book filled entirely of quotes by Vince Lombardi on everything from winning to success, faith, racism, football and business. One hundred and forty pages of straight from the mouth Vince Lombardi words of wisdom. And he doesn’t mince them. The Green Bay Packer Football Coach had an ability to motivate and drive men to succeed in such a way that has made him a legend for all time. He was hard, uncompromising and tough when it came to giving anything less than everything you had.
We…shall play every game to the hilt with every ounce of fiber we have in our bodies.
Vince understood that Winners were in the habit of acting like winners. That winning is an attitude, a frame of mind, a behavior, a level of commitment and perseverance and yes…a drive and a desire to be the very best player on the field. Of striving for perfection in everything you do.
When we talk about being a perfectionist it is often as a negative thing. Something that needs to be fixed in our character. Sometimes it is. When the need to be perfect is so intense that it freezes a person to inaction instead of action, it has gone too far. When you won’t start a brilliant idea because you know it will never turn out as perfect as it is in the safety of your imagination then your perfectionism is a handicap to your creativity and your inventiveness. When you are constantly in the pattern of sabotaging yourself right before the big day, the shining moment, or crossing the finish line…look in the mirror and see if you can find the twin fears of failure and success staring back at you. They are the children of perfectionism.
But then again…Vince Lombardi didn’t take the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl by saying “Let’s all play good football here, Let’s do a good job and see how it goes.” OH NO. He said:
I’m going to tell you the facts, gentleman, and the facts are these: At Green Bay, we have winners. We do not have losers. If you are a loser, mister, you’re going to get your ass out of here right now. Gentleman, we are paid to win. Gentlemen, we will win.”
Losing wasn’t an option. Settling for anything less than the very best wasn’t an option. It was unthinkable. Not giving 110% wasn’t allowed. 100% wasn’t good enough. That was for other teams. Teams that weren’t destined for greatness. Not good enough for Vince Lombardi.
They call him a legend. They call him a hero. Certainly not by everyone though. He was criticized for being too tough, too hard. Some say that those days are gone now in our society. You can’t talk that way, can’t *treat* people the way that coaches like Lombardi or even Ditka talked to their players. People can’t be expected to live up to those kind of standards. We’ve lowered the bar, lowered our expectations about what we expect.
We settle. Often. We go for good enough when nothing short of the very best we have to offer is going to make the dream happen. Then we wonder why our feet are still on the ground.
I’m no different. In some things I race after the target full speed ahead charging for the mark with all engines firing at full speed. Don’t get in my way when I’m that focused. You might get run over. But in other areas of life I am lolly-gagging all over the place and disappointed with the results. I can do a better job at giving my very best effort in everything I do. Not just some of the things.
Maybe that’s why the conversations yesterday stuck with me and followed me around all day. Maybe I see areas that I have been settling in. I need to kick it up a notch. Maybe that’s why I woke up with Vince Lombardi haunting me in my head. I need to get back in the winning habit. Focus on excellence and strive to be the very best I can be in every facet of my life.
The quality of any man’s life has got to be a full measure of that man’s personal commitment to excellence and victory, regardless of what field he may be in.
I think I’ve got the message. Can I have my brain back now Vince? It’s getting loud in here with both of us yakking so much.
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