Chasing perfection

My husband often says I’m a perfectionist, and I suppose he’s right. I want everything to be perfect, though I know in most cases, it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. As the great football coach Vince Lombardi once said,”Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Excellence sounds pretty good, too.

When I interviewed for my job, it was an all-day process and I met with every employee. As the day went on, I noticed a theme: perfection. Everyone talked about the importance of things being done right, the first time. They said the staff was hard-working, intelligent and committed to always doing their best. I imagine all companies say that, but my company “walks the talk.” I work with seemingly perfect people. They are smart, friendly and interesting to talk to. Sometimes I feel like I work in the office version of Pleasantville.

In the past couple weeks I’ve made a few small oversights (nothing major) at work, which I caught on my own, then one was pointed out to me by my boss yesterday. I was horrified. My perfect image was shattered. I stressed all day about it and thought up a solution to remedy the situation and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I think those of us who chase perfection do it partially because of our Type-A personalities, and in part because we don’t want to disappoint other people. At work and at home, I try to please the people who depend on me to do a good job. If I make mistakes at work, my boss could fire me and at home, my kids could be unhappy. Neither sounds fun, and sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure.

In my case, work is an easier place to seek out perfection than home, because it is not dependent on attitudes and actions of tiny humans. I have some sense of control. If I mess up at work it is my fault, while at home dinner can be ruined because I’m pulled out of the kitchen by a kid who pooped her pants and another who simultaneously shattered a glass on the back patio. Good times!

I’m slowly realizing that no mom or employee is perfect. We all make mistakes. It’s human nature. Things fall through the cracks and that’s okay. Emails will go unreturned, chicken will be overcooked. You’ll miss a spot painting a wall, your kid will go to soccer with dirty socks. It’s not the end of the world.

I’m trying to use the imperfections that I used to consider failures as learning experiences. No one is as hard on you as you are on yourself. Striving for perfection at work is a noble goal, but excellence is more attainable. More importantly, your kids love you no matter what. Even if they eat hot dogs for dinner three nights in a row and their shoes don’t match, when they tell you you’re “the best mom ever” nothing else matters. Clay said that to me this morning and my most important job (mom) gave me the energy to tackle my other job (marketing director). That’s perfection.


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