I’ve known a few perfectionists in my life. I have always loved them. They are easy to spot… impeccably dressed, like to bake, speak in the appropriate vernacular. Let’s face it, perfectionists are great to befriend… but, I could never imagine myself leading a perfect existence. Here’s why…
I am a failure.
Has any perfectionist you’ve ever known EVER failed? At least, if they did… they would never tell you… right? But, here’s the thing. As I worship the perfection of successful friends, acquaintances on Facebook, parents, scientists, professional athletes, models etc… I wonder if they have ever had a disappointing day in their lives?
In reality, it doesn’t matter because everyone has to fail at some time or another. If you haven’t failed then maybe you aren’t aiming high enough… or, maybe you let yourself quit before you failed. Either way, failure is essential and unique to everyone.
One of the most successful people I know, had so many failed business attempts before the age of 25 that anyone with any semblance of dignity would have told him to stop. “Follow the normal path.” “Do what all of your other successful friends are doing.” But, to him that was not an option. He was different. He was not about achieving success… he was harnessing a vision. (And, not in a cult-like way… but, in a “google” type way.)
His parents not only believed in him, but encouraged him to push on. I’m sure it’s a bumpy ride raising that kind of a man. But, even through failure, he never disappointed his family… failure and disappointment are two separate beasts. Failure comes as a result of unknown and unpredictable circumstances working against you. Disappointment comes when you knowingly make poor decisions that affect you and those around around you, like farting in an elevator.
Today I am driving in a camper van to Tongariro, New Zealand. The goal is to drive into the national park and hike the Alpine Crossing. The Alpine Crossing is a rugged 7-9 hour hike known for its natural and cultural significance. The track starts at the base of Mt. Tongariro, a multi-cratered active volcano. It’s pouring rain. Cold rain. Cold, hard, pelting rain.
“Let’s get our climb-on!”
We begin our ascent among the beautiful spring blossoms. The pale yellow fields stretch out for miles offering up wild flowers in the dewy mist.
Once the slow, steady rain has set in, we hike in search of the pale blue and red pools at the volcano’s summit. The weather becomes increasingly dim and damp. A hard pelting rain accompanies us for the next several kilometres.
Then the driving snow takes over. It is mixed with the rain, but at this point, the rain drops hit the ground and then turn into hostile little ice pellets that travel upwards at a 45 degree trajectory. We still travel onward. My exposed flesh is raw with wind burn. (Well, hello microdermabrasion!… I spent the next three days peeling layers of skin off of my face.)
Then the wind picks up and I am forcing myself to batten down into this fierce beast of a storm.
And, finally I am wet and exhausted. Pushing on beyond this point would force us to cross the Rubicon. And, while I’m not so crazy about the camper van… it is my one solace from this cold, damp misery.
So, there it is… I didn’t complete the Alpine Crossing. “FAIL”!
It hurts man!
So, we climb for the next four hours down the mountain looking forward to a hot meal and the most delicious beer ever! And throughout years of trying to be perfect I admonish my self to Theodore Roosevelt, who said:
It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the blind man stumbles. The credit belongs to the man who really was in the arena, his face marred by dust, sweat, and blood. Who strives valiantly, who errs to come up short and short again. But who knows that there is no effort without error and shortcoming. It is the man who actually strives to do the deeds, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of great achievement. And, who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be marked with those cold and cruel souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Consolation prize: A dip in the hot spring…