Vince Lombardi & The Passionate Pursuit of Imperfection

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”  Steven Wright

Most of us still desire to be and do our best. And today, even our best needs improvement.

During a recent interview, best-selling Author/Speaker Harvey Mackay recalled a story about his good friend, the late, legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi who told him, “Practice does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Now that is shooting high.

Isn’t it a shame that there is such a growing legion of willing disciples calmly submitting to the tenets of mediocrity and low expectation?

Just imagine how it affects self-identity.  It destroys vision, saps initiative and blunts intention.

I welcome their resignation.  That means less competition for me.

Now, that probably sounds cold.  But, don’t misunderstand. I do care for others.  My intention is to help but not share an emotional load indefinitely.  Maybe that takes me out of the running for a merit badge from the compassionately correct but, I’ve got my own challenges and bills to pay that demand immediate attention.

We all want more in a world where less is sovereign. It is a time to focus and be better than best.

Here’s the thing: We get sidelined in the pursuit of perfection instead of the attainable excellent. We all can do more and Vince Lombardi achieved a whole lot more than I ever will accomplish so respectful props to the coach.

And, unlike Lombardi, there is no service area along the Jersey Turnpike named after me.  Ya know, you’ve got to put things in perspective.

I will settle for excellence and that is a tough enough assignment especially during these tough times.

We are over the age of 50.  We’ve weathered many storms, eclipsed the most unforeseen imaginings and now find ourselves immersed in self-examination wondering what the hell to do now?

I have written in the past about the 7 C’s of Success:

1). Chaos and Confusion-Wanting out of it now

2). Calm-Accepting it

3). Concept-Developing it

4). Construction-Giving it form

5). Completion-Taking it to the Marketplace

6). Conclusion-All matter has cycles.  Accepting it, moving on

7). Commencement-Accepting something new

The biggest challenges lie in the first 3 C’s. It’s too easy to be seduced by the siren call and corrupting allure of Noise and Distraction.  That can prove to be an ongoing struggle.

The most difficult step is finding Calm.  Then, the most difficult step is escaping Calm.  Introspection can entrap; creating dubious, if not impossible goals to achieve.

That scenario becomes the incubator for perfection attainment; and that’s the downfall.

Perfection is impossible. Because it is inconceivable, all efforts to achieve it become futile.  But, we don’t give up. We soldier on but encounter more frustration in the quest to achieving perfection.

Plus, the harder we work, the more we come to recognize and respect the “close but no cigar” adage.

And, as we become more introspective, we disregard external counsel and consider it distraction.

It is similar to the outcomes for Millennials.  The difference: they exclude group unlikeness, embrace uniformity while we morph into an environment where we are sole proprietor and the singular sphere of influence.

It is the land of theorists, continually postulating, never producing but always on the threshold of “almost.”

Most likely, you are over the age of 50. Attaining mid-century landmark status, means having the balls to say no.

Way to go! Let’s hear it for NO, yes? No!

When we were younger, most of us would just “go along to get along.”  Yes became a natural response. No was extremely difficult, even to enunciate.

Now the “no” hounds have finally been unleashed.  But, that can become problematic in reining them in.  It’s like they’ve got a weekend pass and the “no’s.” are drunk with their new found power.

Unfortunately, too many “no’s” are prime indicators of old age.  Too many “no’s” can manifest themselves in our physical comportment and bearing.

Instead of standing up straight and keeping a bright and lively step, the “no’s” engender a slower gait of walk and produce a bent over carriage.  That leads eventually to the senior citizen slouch and shuffle and never lifting of feet.

The mental attitude affects the physical demeanor.

We are much too young to be old.  In our quest for perfection, we cloister ourselves in a kingdom of our own making, a dominion of one that is shrinking in size, influence and meaning that hastens decline and spawns inner decay.

Author/Filmmaker Julia Cameron said, Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”

Sure, it’s a given.  If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing. That calls for a serious time-out to focus and re-focus.

But then again, lacking focus and introspection lead to indecisiveness, the key to flexibility.  You’ve got to look on the bright side!

What I’m saying is there is no happy medium.  We all want balance.  Unfortunately, balance and cycles are mutually exclusive.  Where is synchronicity when we need it?

So, we do the best we can.

We are perfect the way we are.  We are perfectly imperfect. All we can do is strive for personal excellence.  What I’ve found is we all need help. We need outside influence. We need mentors. We need coaches.

Perfection aspiration is the antagonist to excellence consummation.

Unlike Coach Lombardi, I’ll never get a Garden State rest stop named after me.  What would be excellent would be an official Dick Heatherton exit ramp off the Marina Freeway here in LA.

Hey, I’m dreaming big.

That is part of my personal passionate pursuit of imperfection.

 

 

Getting from Retro to Get Go

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”  Jack Penn

Recently, I got a ‘heads-up’ notice about an upcoming college reunion.  It is always great to know you are wanted, but I am not a reunion kind-of-guy.  I am grateful for the invite, hold only very good memories of my alma mater and classmates, but it’s just not me.

Not only that, but I attended 8 colleges; never graduated and, what’s worse, kept on changing Majors. And, pursuing a career in Radio was an ideal incubator for wanderlust inclinations.  That’s me, I confess, guilty as charged. Altogether, I’ve probably scored enough credits that are the equivalent to earning a master’s degree.

Nothing against these confabs, but I don’t like being stuck in nostalgia-land. I am sure, for many, it can be a lot of fun.  Let me explain.

A good portion of my Radio career was spent playing the “greatest hits of all time.” For many years, it was fun and exciting.  Not only that, but I was performing this in my hometown, New York, at one of the top stations in the country.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Sounds great doesn’t it? And, it was.

However, living in the land of ‘was’ for so many years became a “Groundhog Day” repetitive nightmare.

There is the old maxim: “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.”

You may be familiar with the Oldie, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles.  Playing that and other songs most every day became a kind of torment.  What new could I say about these tunes that had not been said before at least a thousand times and still sound enthusiastic?

Now you’re probably saying, “poor baby” and you may be right. But, you‘ve got to know when to move on and take another course of action.

The Late Management Guru and Author Peter Drucker summed it best: “The hardest thing to do is to keep a corpse from rotting.”

That was me.

I needed to get from Retro to Get Go and it wasn’t easy, Today, that’s how I live my life.  I respect the past, learned from it but can’t allow it to become an indulgence or overseer.

Plus, the rules of life today are in constant flux and the updating process has become such a bitch that even the latest version is out of date before it goes to print, so I’m taking a pass on the reunion.

It really is a matter of Redefining, Refining and Realigning-know what you want, perfect it and implement it.

Now, that is easier to write than to execute.  And, let’s face it, there are times in life when no matter what you do, you just can’t win for losing and the only luck you’ve got is bad and that’s not good.

It’s like the story about the guy trying to get a handle on things; but it broke.

Then there’s the calm before the……………………..calm.

We are over the age of 50 so this is definitely a “been there, done that” scenario known only all too well.

But, we can’t just sit there and mope?  There’s a lot of that going on today.  Even the government classifies ‘moping’ as an area of dynamic growth potential.  However, there’s an extensive internship process and invoicing can prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare.

What’s worse, sideline sanctuary provides debatable consolation.

Yes, we have been “through the mill.”  So, what do you do?

Turn things around.  Be paradoxical, be counter-intuitive and unpredictable.

See things from a different angle.  We get married to a way of viewing and doing. It’s the stimulus-response, action-reaction thing.

But ask yourself, how is it working for you? It might be time for a mindset trial separation.  Habits are hard to break.  It’s a given.

Take a look at Millenials.  So many of them do what they do without experience. There is so much virgin territory open for discovery and formation that past sound judgments are irrelevant, easily rejected and considered meaningless.

Sure, it is walking a tightrope without a safety net but, if ‘sure bets’ were sure things, then, for sure, we’d all be rich and famous.  That is Getting from Retro to Get Go.  You’ve got to take a chance.

And then there’s stress.  All our lives, we have been indoctrinated to consider stress as a crippling agent, an achievement killer and something toxic.

In a recent interview Psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal, author of “The Upside of Stress”, offers a completely different take on stress.  She considers it “an experience that you have when something you care about is at stake”; something that  can actually make you stronger, smarter and happier.

Personally, I hate stress but find it to be a prime motivating agent.  It actually gets me more creative and focused while “under the gun.”

The hard part: Surmounting the initial surge of stagnation and fear that accompany the pressure and tension.

Stress as an activator?   Don’t knock it until you try it.  There is nothing worse than being stuck in a rut without a Plan B.

Kathy Edwards Lucas told me about her unique action plan.

Kathy is one of the nation’s leading certified life coaches. She shared with me her novel and effective approach to transforming a sour lemon narrative into a tasty lemonade finale.

Lucas told me about a time in her life when she was experiencing financial anemia.  She was going through financial drought.  Instead of bemoaning her fate, she made the most of her limited resource circumstance.

She didn’t shut down, give up nor isolate herself.   Instead, Kathy planned for tomorrow.  She shopped but didn’t buy.  She couldn’t buy.  Kathy took stock of what she needed once she generated income.

Kathy Edwards Lucas took inventory. She prepared herself for the future.  She designed a past-present prototype that detailed exactly how to handle forthcoming expectation.

When prospects brightened, there was no mental reorientation or readjustment to a prosperity mindset.  She had designed a fact-finding mission that eventually paid her beaucoup dividends.  Past intention was the construct for anticipated consequence and tangible consideration.

It reminds me of best-selling Author and Speaker Harvey Mackay’s motto, “Do what you love, love what you do and deliver more than you promise”; simple but sage words of advice.

However, as much as we might agree with this plan mentally and set forth a course of action, it is all too easy to become entrapped by ingrained emotional entanglements that keep us beholden to destructive relationships, negative attitudes and self-defeating behaviors.

This is not narcissistic indulgence.  Let’s be honest: The terminally self-absorbed have little regard for the concerns of others. They love the attention and are resolute in their one-way commitment to themselves.

What holds us back is the devastating grip of Distraction.  Goal setting and action blueprints that define what we set out to accomplish can many times take a back seat to the incidental.

What we deserve is placed on ‘hold’ as if unworthy of merit and completion. Our goal becomes an obstacle to distraction.

The mind has a way of filtering out rejection and tough times that accompany past triumphs.  It romanticizes the past, suppresses aspiration and restricts all likelihood of Getting from Retro to Get Go.