Have you ever had a baby elephant sit on your shoulders?
Duh…who hasn’t, right?!?!?
I guess the more poignant question: What was your “elephants” name? Was it Worry? Guilt? Stress?
I affectionately called mine “Perfection” – and he was a heavy son of a bitch.
For a majority of my life, I struggled with the head trash that I HAD to be perfect. No matter what I was doing, I made myself physically ill, pushing for unattainable perfection.
In my sick and twisted mind, there was no room for error – EVER! I was like Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, who ignorantly believed, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
That’s how I attacked everything in my life.
I once told a leadership group: “I not only want to be the best student in this class, I want to make half the class feel inadequate…and I want to make the other half want to buy me a beer.”
How nauseating is that statement? (And unfortunately, very true.)
I can’t remember the exact moment in my life when I realized that the quest for perfection was futile, but it was a glorious realization. I grabbed my baby elephant by its trunk and slammed it to the ground. It was like someone removed…well….a baby elephant from my shoulders.
I could move.
I could breath.
I could see clearly.
I could attack life with newfound vigor and perspective.
I loved it!
Like I said, I’m not sure when it happened, but I attribute my epiphany
to a couple of things:
1) Maturing (age and life experiences)
2) Embracing my faith (reminder: there’s only been one perfect person)
I recently read Josh Hamilton’s biography, Beyond Belief, and it reminded me of my long-time burden. The book reminded me how heavy and potentially destructive the quest for perfection can be.
Even though Josh still struggles with this to a certain degree, he recognized the senselessness of chasing perfection.
We were preparing for pro ball by the time I was fifteen, but the only pressure I felt was the pressure I put on myself. Baseball is a game of failure. You can’t expect to succeed every time you go to the plate, or strike out every hitter, or throw out every base runner. Accepting failure was the toughest lesson I had to learn. I was so hard on myself I had to fight the urge to expect perfection.
All I could think to myself: “I feel ya, Hambone!”
His words stuck with me: “Accept failure…hard on myself…fight the urge to expect perfection.”
I was reading these words when Josh was in the midst of a career slump. I won’t bore the non-baseball fans with all the numbers, but he was playing HORRIBLE.
I had to do something.