Graduates are familiar with the SAT's perfect score of 1600, a combined 800 on verbal and 800 on math. Occasionally we hear of a student who actually achieves that perfect score, but we are more often awed by reports of a 1520 or even results in the 1400s. It's easy to find a college accepting students who get close to 1000. The perfection of 1600 is rare.
There is a big difference in knowing the mark we look toward and actually expecting to reach perfection. Even more dangerous is the expectation that someone or something else will be perfect.
I've lived in my dream home for 27 years and I still love it. It is perfect for me. There is the key, perfect for me. I had lunch recently with Kay Schucker, a Realtor in Great Bridge who describes today's market as being as frustrating as it is hot. Inventory, the number of resale homes available, is very, very low. Buyers, she reports, are often frustrated at not having more homes to view in a quest for the perfect home. What, we wonder, constitutes perfection?
When our artists create ads, the responses on clients' proofs often depend more on the clients than on the ads' creativity. If Jim Creekmore is sending back a proof for his hardware store, chances are 9 out of 10 he has written, 'Great, Thanks!' The same ad Jim will approve might get adjusted endlessly by someone else looking for elusive perfection. Yes, eyes of the beholder applies here.
I will always be grateful to my Dad who never put any pressure on me to excel. He considered everything I did excellent. When I was leaving for college, he told me not to concentrate solely on grades. 'Have fun,' he counseled, 'Don't get stressed.' Looking back, I realize how unusual that counsel was, and is today.
I followed his advice. I had fun. So much fun that, after the first semester at George Washington University, I had one of each grade, A through F. I had never seen most of those letters on a report card and I wasn't ever going to see them again. No one had to tell me to buckle down, I wasn't going to leave that wonderful, fun place. The next semester I won a scholarship. I don't remember either of my parents ever saying the first negative thing about my studies. They were mine; it was my life; I was fully motivated. And I was perfect to them! What a gift.
One of the most interesting concepts I've learned as an adult is that of mirroring. It is when we see our own characteristics in others. The rudest people I know are always reporting rudeness in others. Kind people identify kindness in others. Pay attention for a while and identify it; it is fascinating. It is not the one instance that marks the trait; it is the pattern.
Most everyone knows rudeness when it happens. A rude person, however, finds it everywhere. That is mirroring.
One of my all-time favorite movies is As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. In it, Jack tells Helen that she makes him want to be a better man.
That's love - the desire to be better ourselves,
rather than wanting the other person to be better.
Now that, if not perfection, is as good as it gets.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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