Adjusting the Aim from Perfectionism to Excellence

When asked at a conference I recently attended what I see as the most common issues played out in parent/child relationships today, it takes me no time to identify perfectionism as one of the top three.  For that reason,  I decided to post notes below from a presentation I gave at our school’s conference for parents last summer. During the slower pace of the summer months, I encourage you to read through the information below to determine if any of it applies to you or your children.  Addressing this one somewhat complex issue will go a long way in establishing growth and helping your children realize their potential.  Plus it will go a long way in guiding your children to comprehend the unconditional love of Jesus, which is not rooted in our performance but in His perfection. What is perfectionism?             “‘Good enough’ may be good enough for other people, but it’s never good enough for me.”             “When I make a mistake, I feel like a failure.” Perfectionists either perfect themselves to death or they give up and barely try at all. Perfectionists respond to life’s challenges either by over performing or under performing. A perfectionist rarely tries to be perfect in all things. Instead they choose areas or an area to be perfect in. They can be a perfectionist with studies and a slob in their room or they can be a perfectionist in their sport and put little effort into studies. Some will only try at things they know they can be good at. Everything else is off limits. A perfectionist connects being perfect with their...

Recovering from Perfectionism

 When I look back on my life, I see a series of lessons God has orchestrated to grow and change me, and in hindsight I value these lessons deeply. This summer has been no exception, when God used an emergency eye condition and distorted vision to clarify the eyes of my  heart. Releasing Free to Parent, the book my daughter Erin and I recently wrote,  has made me realize how far I still need to go in addressing certain deceptions that I stubbornly hold onto. Over and over, God patiently reveals to me what needs fixing and slowly my heart is gaining freedom from fallacies such as: Perfectionism. And my deep need to please others. As well as my fears over the criticism that will inevitably also come as a result of writing and releasing a book. It’s no accident that this book was completed during a time of major challenges in my own life, complicated with significant challenges in the publishing process. It’s no accident that we wound up delivering (in order to get it done in time for our school’s Paideia conference) an imperfect work still in need of some edits and minor revisions. It’s a frightening proposition for a person like me to release such a book, especially to my own school community. Yet that is exactly what God had me do in order to address my fears of never being quite “good enough.”  He did this  by testing my willingness to step out and offer up a book that was “not quite ready enough.” It’s a fallacy to think we can’t act until conditions are...

Preparing for the End of the School Year

Whether your students are third graders or seniors in high school, the end of the school year is almost here and chances are they are fighting the temptation to fade.  (Whether you are a parent or a teacher, you wish to fade as well.)   Remind your students (and yourselves) that in the final stretch of a race, the temptation to ease up is difficult to resist and procrastination becomes more likely, especially for those who fear doing well on year end testing and projects.  Success is often determined in the starting and in the finishing, however, so encourage them to do their best to finish well. It’s a great time to read these previous posts and go over them with your students: Procrastination Finishing Strong NEXT WEEK, I will address the issue of boredom. Have a great...

Just Begin.

“He who has begun has half done.  Dare to be wise; begin.” Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus: 65 BC – 8 BC) We all procrastinate in some form or fashion.  Our human nature draws us away from doing tasks that require focused energy or concentration. While I can ignore doing “that dreaded task” for some time however, I can’t ignore the weight on my emotions, because it remains my constant, discouraging companion, who keeps me from fully enjoying anything else I am doing in its place. Unfortunately, procrastination allows us to be content with second-rate results.  To quote Richard O’Conner, “we can always tell ourselves we’d have done a better job if only we’d had more time. If you’re good at rationalizing, you can keep yourself feeling rather satisfied this way, but it’s a cheap happy. You’re whittling your expectations of yourself down lower and lower.” When does procrastination become a problem? That question is best answered by examining the consequences we deal with as a result of this learned response: 1.       Procrastinators can experience external consequence such as low grades or low performance marks due to not turning work in, missing deadlines, or last minute scrambling to prepare. 2.       Procrastinators can also suffer internal consequences – they feel anxious even when they are doing something fun because the still-to-be-done task serves as a downer. 3.       Procrastinators tend to experience higher levels of stress.  With stress hormones coursing through their bodies, their immune system is weakened and their sleep is often disturbed. 4.       Students who procrastinate have reduced initiative and passion for learning –  resulting in a lowering of expectations...

All's Well that Begins AND Ends Well

Are you a procrastinator who habitually struggles to get started?  Or do you start out enthusiastically only to find yourself fading before the finish?  Appallingly, both a slow start and a fading finish describe a growing number of modern day students who find themselves distracted and drifting without any clear purpose. I ran the 800 in high school track.  (Actually, it was the 880 yard run which shows you how long ago that was.) I always shot out fast from the starting blocks.  And, on my best days, I managed to finish strong as well.  To this day, I fondly remember one particular race when I qualified for state as a sophomore, much to the surprise of my coach.  I ran hard from start to finish. I also regretfully remember my next race (the state meet).  I let the fear of not meeting expectations get to me, and I still remember the spot on the track when I decided to fade.   I also remember how exhausted I felt – far more so than in races when I never gave up. I finished dead last at state, with my slowest time of the season. That momentary decision, on the third curve of the second lap, reduced my courage… not just for that particular race but for many races to come. I began to fear running.  My confidence plummeted as I worried about giving up again. The joy I had previously found in running greatly diminished and so did my self-esteem. Without a doubt, the more effort I gave to a race, the more invigorating and rewarding the experience was. Isn’t...