From childhood, Americans are encouraged to be all they can be, from honor students to sports stars to model citizens. But is the drive for perfection actually self-defeating? The answer is mixed.
Famous football coach and inspirational motivational speaker Vince Lombardi said:
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
While there is certainly nothing wrong with excellence (or perfection), high standards across the board are impossible for most people to attain.
Life coaches and psychologists agree that setting boundaries on personal achievement is good for a person’s mental health, especially as we age.
Part of becoming an adult involves identifying our strongest passions and talents and focusing on them. You may remember the old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” People whose goal is to be the best at everything often wind up stressed out and disappointed when they fall short of their self-imposed marks.
In short, successful adults promote their strengths while accepting the fact that there are a whole lot of things they aren’t all that good at. Being mediocre – ordinary – is perfectly acceptable.
Parents naturally want to give their kids every opportunity to thrive and explore their talents. They enroll their offspring in after-school activities such as music lessons, soccer practice, 4-H club, and chess club. Bumper stickers brag, “My kid is an honor student.”
Youth is resilient and full of energy. Pushing hard is fine – until after high school or college graduation. Then, it’s time to switch strategies and concentrate on becoming the adult you want to be rather than a parent-pleaser.