Do you tend to hold yourself to a standard of PERFECTION?

“ I don’t hold myself to a standard of perfection; or I would have committed suicide a long time ago.”

Warren Buffet

I saw this quote from Warren Buffet in TOI, Mumbai edition dated 11th May, 2011, and it suddenly made me pause.

My first inner dialogue : Huh, so easy to flaunt modesty and humility once you reach the pinnacle of success or at least achieve a high level of worldly success ! How can one achieve anything in life if one does not try to attain a standard of perfection ? Buffets must have also chased perfection to have achieved the kind of huge success that he has by now.

Next moment : gave myself a nudge : hey, what’s that ? Have you really gone nuts? Give it a cool thought.

Yes.  On a deeper reflection, I came to see the profound point that Mr Buffets has made here, that perhaps differentiates the extra-ordinarily successful from the ordinary.

Yes… Holding oneself to a standard of Perfection could be suicidal for an individual, if one does not really understand that perfection is to be pursued, though can not be attained.  Perfection is undoubtedly something that must be pursued in everything you do, lest you stop short of doing your best under the circumstances. But as you do so, it is important to understand and appreciate all the while that perfection is never really attained; as there is always a chance of a better cropping up after a best in this universe of dynamic reality. What is best today, at this point might get surpassed at some point in future with the canvass of reality changing with every passing moment!  As it is said, the room for improvement is the biggest and ever-expanding room in this world.

Perfection is to be pursued with all honesty and humility; but none has ever attained it, it is not attainable and so, do not kill yourself if you too fail to attain it !! That’s it ! Because, once you hold yourself to a standard of perfection, without understanding that it is not attainable all the same, you will tend to be never satisfied with whatever you do and can not take this  “failure” of your own self kindly, and will get trapped in a self-deprecating, self-punishing mode. A sure shot recipe for suicide.

On the other hand, if you understand that what is important is your pursuit of perfection and if you know that you have been doing your best, at and up till that very moment, you will not be self-critical to a point of demoralisation, if the results come short of your expectations.  In that case, you will also retain your mental harmony and objectivity to analyse where you could have done better and take the next step with greater resolve, greater vigour, enriched with learnings from you past experience and keeping a tab on further progress elsewhere. You will not be an unhappy soul – a frustrated, desperate soul who seeks escape in self-termination only!! Rather, you will become an ever inquisitive, ever energetic and ever enthusiastic person on a journey of growth and evolution to higher and higher planes.

Actually, when I look back at my own experience now, I feel, almost always it has been the case that whenever I was unhappy – it was because I found myself, or someone else or something in the situation, that fell short of my exacting standards of value, that I had set up for myself! Perhaps I was wrong in this aspect.  Had I taken certain things a bit less seriously, perhaps I would have never gone through some of the hurtful experiences.  Of course, I can legitimately take pride in my amazing ability to learn from everything – so, eventually I used to see the reason in being flexible about certain expectations and learnt to let go. That helped me to move on and understand external realities vis-à-vis my own frame of reference much better.

So, folks…. Being a perfectionist is all right, so long as you know you are never going to be perfect.