Part II: Perfection reveals Excellence
Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 1:14PM

Once we have a clear understanding of perfection and excellence -- that perfection is an ideal and excellence is an actual result -- the next step is to make perfection the goal in all things, big and small.

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” --Vince Lombardi

Huh? Perfection? Isn’t this a contradiction since we can never reach an ideal?

Not at all.

Just consider the alternative: how can excellence be the central goal?

Having “excellence” alone as a goal would be like driving a golf ball onto a green without a pin. What part of the green would be deemed to be most excellent? To where would we putt once there? How would we know if we were even on the right green?

Rather, excellence can be defined by its proximity to perfection; how actual results measure up to the ideal or, by this analogy, excellence in golf is the distance to the pin.

Indeed, without the benchmark of perfection, excellence is immeasurable, unknowable, and unobtainable. It is essential to understand that perfection is the means to achieve excellence, not the end in itself. 

It’s our divine right to align our being with perfection-- the ideal. Yet, then we must hold excellence in reverence -- the result -- for that is as close as we can humanly get to the divine on this day. Pursue Perfection; Revere Excellence.

Here's how Pro Beach volleyball player Saralyn Smith put it in "For Love of the Game:"

"True athletes understand the tears a player sheds when her performance touches greatness. When you experience a moment of perfection in your sport—that’s the moment when time slows down and you feel moved by a greater power than yourself."


A brush with perfection is a glimpse of the divine; momentary, unpredictable, and fleeting. A hole-in-one, for example, is a majestic experience but unrepeatable, and certainly not something we can expect on any given golf outing.

The far more common outcome is an "excellent" drive, landing close enough to the pin to easily putt. Humility accepts. Expectation rejects.

Purpose, Perspective, and Gratitude are the three keys to using perfection as a tool:

  1. Purpose: Perfection reveals Excellence, so having an idealized goal is not optional; it is of the essence.
  2. PerspectivePerfection is a means, not an end. As long as you know that perfection is a tool -- not an outcome-- you will accept your best efforts on this day.
  3. Gratitude: Revere Excellence in yourself and others, for it is a glimpse of the divine and the source of never ending joy.

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." -- Vince Lombardi

Perfection is commonly used in factories to maintain quality control in a program called "Zero Defects."Realizing "zero defects" is, of course, humanly impossible, yet holding the vision of perfection, i.e. “zero defects,” drives excellence; diminishing the instances of defects to almost zero.

Think about the mechanics. "Zero defects" just sets the bar -- the ideal -- to zero, not the reality. That ensures that any and all defects get noticed, and that each is cause for engagement and continuous improvement-- not a reason to cry!

Pursue Perfection; Revere Excellence.








Article originally appeared on Divine Elements; Dream, Believe, Love, Create (
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