Perfection vs Excellence (What Are You Striving For?)

27 Apr


Perfection is being right.

Excellence is being willing to be wrong.


Perfection is fear.

Excellence is taking a risk


Perfection is anger and frustration.

Excellence is powerful


Perfection is control

Excellence is spontaneous


Perfection is judgement

Excellence is accepting


Perfection is taking

Excellence is giving


Perfection is doubt

Excellence is confidence


Perfection is pressure

Excellence is natural


Perfection is the destination

Excellence is the journey


—author unknown

My first night in IOP, we talked about the difference between Perfectionism and Excellence.  To be quite honest, I never really stopped to think what the difference is, or rather to even compare/contrast the two.  But our discussion, and the above quote which was shared, really got me thinking.


1.  the state or quality of being or becoming perfect.
2.  the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art.
3.  a perfect embodiment or example of something.
4.  a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.
5.  the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait.


1.  the state or quality of excelling or being exceptionally good; extreme merit; superiority
2.  an action, characteristic, feature, etc, in which a person excels

We talked about how striving for excellence is a good thing but striving for perfectionism is not.  Striving for excellence is the pursuit of being the best you that you can be, within the limits of your control.  It is the pursuit of living up to your full potential, doing the best that you can do for yourself.  It’s an inward push to reach your maximum potential.


Perfectionism is the push to be something that is unrealistic, the ‘best this’ or the ‘best that’.  A lot of times perfectionism can be a push based on an external standard, what is expected of a person to be.  There is a key difference between the way the pursuit of both of these things and how it makes one feel about themselves.  Striving for excellence typically leaves one feeling as if they are working towards an attainable, achievable goal…focusing on doing what they realistically can do to be the person that they are able to be.  Striving for excellence leaves one feeling like they are never going to be good enough, never going to be what they hope or wish to be.  There is no satisfaction in the striving of perfection.  There is also no real achievement.  You may feel at moments like you have achieved a lot, but realistically, striving for perfection is a goal that can never be met…no matter how hard one tries.  It can leave you feeling burned out, lost, and at times hopeless.

I like how it is analyzed here

Essentially we can all be too hard on ourselves, at times we can try to achieve ‘perfection’ in whatever sense of the word or whatever avenue in our life that may be.  But the thing to remember is that it is unattainable.  There is no such thing as being perfect.  I get the picture of a hamster running in a wheel.  He goes in circles and circles, always trying to get somewhere but is never actually moving anywhere.  Perfection seems a lot like running in a wheel.  You exert endless amount of energy but you will never get there.

I struggle with trying to be perfect in certain areas of my life, as I’m sure many of us do.  But once you except that perfection is unattainable, you automatically reach a point where you can choose to let that journey go.  It is then that you can really strive and work towards excellence.  Excellence is a complete different path, but one that is attainable by everyone!  It’s just a matter of pushing forward and working towards that goal instead!

So I’m choosing to take the path towards my own personal journey of excellence!  What about you?


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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


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