Monday, July 26, 2010

The anti-perfectionist

My job as a consultant is to look for ways to help my clients do better. To find the narrow spot in their defensive layers and spackle over it.
Sounds nice, right? Except when somebody sees me charging in and pictures their least favorite science teacher wielding a red pen with fingers itching to sketch out an F. More than once I have offered well meaning advice only to get a scathing rebuttal.
The thing is, I get where they're coming from. There are times in my life--or more accurately regions of my life, I guess--where one of two things happens. I either feel so abysmal that any advice is only a reinforcement of my own inadequacy, or I feel like I'm in a pass/fail position and anything less than 100% is a feed-her-to-the-lions thumbs down.
Well today I met with a safety guy who talked for twenty minutes non-stop about the measures he has put in place. And then, when I noted a potential thin spot and offered a few ideas, he was eager to hear them. His goal was to be the best he could be. And he was neither disillusioned enough to feel like he was there, nor defeatist enough to feel like it was out of reach.
It is so much easier to jump off either side of the boat than to balance in the middle, and today I'm grateful for a reminder that it's not just possible, but the best position to be in.
I love that God is not a pass/fail science teacher. He doesn't own a red pen. Pink maybe, but not red. And he doesn't fail people even when we fail him. He just says, "not yet passed," and continues to educate us and love us through the lesson. When I won't settle for less than perfection, he doesn't lie and tell me I'm there. He just waits for my tantrum to end, then helps me get up, dust off, and keep trying. When I feel like it's out of reach, he gives the encouragement and perseverance to strive until it is in reach.
Thank you, God, for not expecting perfection, and not accepting the status-quo. For forever giving me what I need to strive on, and for journeying with me, loving me, each step of the way.

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