Institute for Charitable Giving

VeritiesSeeking Perfection May Not Produce Happy Results

Seeking Perfection May Not Produce Happy Results

There is a significant difference between striving for excellence and attempting perfection. With the proper attitude and determination, the first is attainable, gratifying, and healthy. The latter is virtually impossible and frustrating. Perhaps even neurotic. It also happens to be an extraordinary waste of time.

The difference between excellence and perfection goes virtually unnoticed. It certainly will not cause you to lose or to win the gift. But the cost of pursuing perfection is enormous.

The successful fundraisers I interviewed all stand on tiptoes to achieve what the ancient Greeks called Arete—the highest level of excellence.

Those who make a fetish out of perfection ravage precious resources that should be allocated more effectively somewhere else.

None of the great fundraisers settle for anything short of the best they can do. Excellence is their standard. But they don’t waste time, either, worrying if it is not sheer perfection.  Striving for perfection is an impossible and debilitating state of mind in an imperfect world.


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