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.

 

 

Momentum, Perfection, Charley Warner & Excellence.

You’ve heard the story about the guy who was going through very hard times.  Things were sooo dreadful, the only luck he had was bad.

Nothing was working for him.

One day, while looking up to the heavens totally aggravated, annoyed and frustrated, he shrieks out, “Lord, why me”?

Suddenly, massive dark clouds appear, humongous bolts of lightening emerge, deafening, roaring sounds of thunder reverberate so powerfully, the concussive force knocks him to the ground.

Then, coming from above, a sonorous, commanding voice is heard saying,………………”because you piss me off.”

Let’s face it, there are times when no matter what you do, nothing seems to work  And, now that we’re over the age of 50, our personal  “luck ledger” appears to have migrated from assets to liabilities a lot more often.

Life is a game.  Yes, a game.  And, as in almost all games, there is momentum. It happens inexplicably.  Everything is going along perfectly.  And, then suddenly, things turn upside down.  They go sideways, up and around but definitely not heading in your direction.  There is no real reason for the course change.  It just happens.

Even Psychologists can’t figure out why.  It’s just part of the life experience.   It’s immutable.  It’s unexpected and, when it happens, IT HAPPENS!.

I remember when I first got into Retail Sales.  Now, I had done well in Radio as talent.  So, why would I have trouble in Sales?  Famous last words.  I was in for a very rude awakening.  I got  hit big time with a reality pie.  Starting off, I couldn’t make a sale or do one thing right.

One day, I called on a college in San Mateo, CA.  The meeting was with a man who had been the President of NBC Radio.  Needless to say, he was a very sharp guy. He took one look at me and said that I looked like some dead meat brought in by a stray dog.

And, I felt that way.  I had no hope.  That man’s name is Charley Warner.  And, I am so grateful to have had him come into my life at that time.  Thank you, Charley Warner.

Warner read me the riot act.  He told me to get off my butt, make a list of all good things I’d accomplished in life and come back in a week with the list.

At first, I could not think of even one good thing.  I was so down and out and feeling like there was no future..  That’s not the kind of attitude that attracts success especially when you’re you’re married with 2 kids and located 3000 miles away from your home base.  I was the furthest thing from perfection.

It took me a considerable amount of time to complete the assignment. Now, I was starting out in Sales and the goals I’d set for myself were perfection personified. Talk about delusion.  In retrospect,  the goals were impossible to achieve.  I had overlooked the obvious facts: learn to crawl before you walk, walk before you can run.  Most importantly, understand that previous skills and talents take time for integration into the new mix.

But, the more time spent working at Warner’s assignment, the more I accepted my good, I re-evaluated my worth and began realizing that life really is a game.  And, in games, there is momentum.

What I learned is that none of us is perfect and never will be.  Perfection is an unattainable goal.  So, stop striving for perfection and re-calculate for Excellence.

Striving for Perfection is demoralizing.  It leads to failure and depression.  It’s a waste of time and drags you down.  Take it from someone who knows.  I’m Exhibit A.

Excellence is motivating.  You and I are not perfect.  But, even now, I can beat myself up unmercifully, trying to reverse mistakes and seek perfection.  All I’m really doing is getting in my own way, interfering with the pendulum of  momentum and not necessarily in a positive direction.  The result: too much of a not so good a thing.  .

Life has it’s ups and downs but mindset affects duration.

Now,  Reflection is something we all need to do now and then.   But, too much is paralyzing.  It stops growth.  And, part of growth is making mistakes and learning from them.  That does not mean imposing a sentence of self-imposed servility and brow-beating.

Actually, too much reflection incubates an atmosphere of perfection. Self-absorption obstructs reality.  And, since no one can attain perfection which is not reality, we wind up in a virtual lotus position, accomplishing little and becoming more depressed.

Worst of all,  you become a theorist.  And, talking is no substitute for actually doing.

The next thing you know you’re aggravated, annoyed and shrieking to the heavens …………..…and, well,……………….…..  Don’t     go      there.

Life is a game and games have momentum.  They have ups and downs.  Attitude abbreviates or prolongs current momentum. Down times don’t last forever.  Accept the fact that there is no perfection.  So, be Excellent.   Know it, believe it, get off your butt and get going.

dickheatherton@gmail.com