This I Believe

Alicia - Portland, Oregon
Entered on March 5, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I believe-The Quest for Perfection

An essay for National Public Radio

When I was a young girl one of my goals was to be as perfect as possible. You see, when you are living in an unpredictable home, you do your best not to create problems. You do what is expected of you before you are yelled at and you try to be invisible.

As years have moved behind me and circumstances have changed, perfection has become harder to achieve. There is a larger audience watching me and there are many more opportunities to fail. Still, I continue to try to be perfect.

I am regularly confronted with obstacles, doubters and naysayers indicating that my attempt at perfection is a waste of energy – something that can never be achieved. I think that it is nonsense not to try, and I think, in our own way, we are all working to reach perfection. The business world has little tolerance for anything less than perfection, although business can’t be successful without risks and therefore errors.

It is known that perfection is a fleeting goal; it is one that is futile in its attempt at achievement. It is, however, in the effort of attempting perfection that we grow as humans, embracing our flaws and failures as stepping stones to greatness.

Look at all we gain in seeking perfection. In always trying to do our best, we learn and grow. We become greater mothers, stronger teachers, better people. In turn, we become better toward one another.

Yes, I make mistakes. I continue to learn more from those failings than I do my achievements. Mahatma Gandhi said, “My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay both at His feet.”

My errors have a constant ring, ever announcing how to do better. While my successes, my perfections, usually end with a resounding quietness; an unnoticeable finish from which I have learned nothing. The very fact that I keep trying to be perfect in everything I do makes me keep trying to do better and be better.

My belief in perfection does not reside in the lofty, unattainable goal of perfection, but in the very path to it. It is this opportunistic journey that helps us strive to be better humans. The drive of the human spirit to be and do better things than what came before us. This is what gives us new solutions, better products and open opportunities to make one another’s lives more fulfilling.

It is well known that perfection is elusive. It is because we have an inherent need to do things right, to strive to be perfect that we continue to get better at governance, acceptance, free market, tolerance and love.

I believe in the Quest For Perfection.