Pushing for Perfection or Striving for Excellence?
August Newsletter- Charity Simpson
|Many years ago, when I was applying to my first graduate school program, I recall asking professors for letters of recommendation. I was privileged to have them not only agree to endorse my skills and abilities, but also be willing to share their confidential letters with me personally as I was not privy to them once submitted. The only statement that I recall from all those I read was from one of my religious studies professors who mentored me and nurtured my interest in theology. He said that the only flaw he could point out about me as a student and applicant was that I didn’t know there was such a thing as “holy mediocrity” when it came to my efforts and pursuits. At the time, I recall having great difficulty understanding what he meant by “holy mediocrity” even though I’ve been told by others most of my life about my perfectionistic tendencies. How could it possibly be “holy” to settle for “mediocrity”? Wouldn’t that just lead to complacency and stagnation? Surely, I had to push myself harder than anyone else! After all, that’s what got me this far, right?
Several years later, I was in a therapy training group where there were persistent themes of each of the members not feeling like they were good enough, not as therapists, people, or parents. At that time, the leader introduced the idea that perhaps being “just good enough”, not expert, not perfect, not infallible, but just good enough, was acceptable. It was then that I started to realize what Dr. McDaniel had meant when he said I needed to learn the value of holy mediocrity. Here I sat with a room full of gifted women and therapists, all of whom could see one another’s gifts and potential, but none of whom felt good enough in themselves. Since then, when I have struggled with self-criticism and attending to my short-comings more than my successes, I have thought about being just good enough and tried to recall that perhaps there is some value in holy mediocrity. Perhaps there aren’t just the extremes of pushing myself to achieve unrealistic, impossible standards or giving up, being lazy, and stopping trying. Perhaps instead it is about being in the fully present in the here and now, appreciating what I have and working wholeheartedly from where I am.
I have continued to see how my perfectionist tendencies, while they may push me to do my best and go above and beyond at times, can also stifle and immobilize me. Oftentimes when I struggle to finish a project or perhaps get started at all, much like this newsletter, my desire to do it perfectly inhibits me from doing it at all. I have long considered using this as a way to share some of the tools I have found most helpful in my personal and professional life over the years. Yet, I prolonged and prolonged the process because I wanted to have it just right. For months, even years, that has prevented me from taking steps forward and sharing what I do have to offer. Thankfully for me, I recently got to revisit this topic of perfection vs. excellence with a client and realized that perhaps this could be the perfect place to put some holy mediocrity back into practice.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Perfection or Excellence?
– Inevitable failure
– Defeat and shame
– Prompts fear and anxiety
– Impossible no matter what I do
– Potential Success
– Progress and Pride
– Prompts hope and responsibility
– Possible with reasonable thought
About Charity Simpson, MS, LAPC, NCC, MDiv
Charity is a collaborative, relational-oriented counselor who seeks to support individuals within their current context. She integrates humanistic, existential, and systems theories with cognitive, behavioral, and solution-focused techniques.
Charity seeks to work with clients to identify strengths, better utilize available resources, and work through challenges that pose obstacles to fulfilling life and relationships.
In addition to traditional talk therapy, Charity integrates practices of mindfulness and creative approaches such as art, music, experiential, sand tray, and play therapies.
|Choices- Addiction, Anger, Recovery
Thursdays, 5:45pm, $60/session
Ongoing ASAM level 1 recovery group for persons dealing with substance abuse or problematic behaviors. State-approved DUI treatment program. The curriculum is designed to look at the root causes of substance abuse, anger, and more instead of merely addressing the symptoms.
Coffee, Tea, and Codependency- Women
|For more information about any of our groups, call our office at 678-395-7922 or visit our website. For the “Challenges” and “Coffee, Tea, and Codependency” groups, email Charity Simpson at email@example.com|