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A few thoughts on passion versus perfection

June 2nd, 2005 · 2 Comments

Dave Winer’s comments on the importance of quality versus inner-child-creative freedom yesterday reminded me of Steve Pavlina’s post on Passion versus Self-Discipline, which I read earlier this week. What’s amusing to me is that both arguments use surgery as an example where quality and discipline are required. I will summarize these two related positions as passion versus perfection. Here are a few thoughts…

  • I’ve never operated on a human being, but I have operated on mice as part of a medical research position I had years ago. For a study on the effect of stress, I implanted pumps that delivered hormones into the animal. Speaking from my past as an expert animal surgeon (said with some sarcasm), I can say that both qualities are necessary. It’s not an either/or but a both. I liked surgery. I think others thought I was good at it. My passion encouraged my skills. The two relate and feed back on each other. One may indicate the other. How did I choose the doctor who operated on my daughter in January? He was someone skilled and experienced but also someone who cared about his patients to the point of going beyond what was expected and required of him. We chose him over another older surgeon who is probably one of the most experienced in the area because of who he was as a person.
  • What Dave has mentioned in previous posts and podcasts, including this one, is empowering people to be creative. As he’s said, we are all creative as children and this is precious and important, a fragile beauty. I believe we were made to create. We enjoy it. It’s a part of who we are as humans. Yet often we are discouraged. As a parent it is important to praise our kids and bless their endeavors, the scribbles. The world may not do this. Sooner or later we may discover that we don’t make the cut. We live in a society that encourages perfection. I see this emphasis already happening with my young children. Evaluations start early. Grades, athletic levels and competition along with the subsequent judgments and labels soon become an accepted part of life. We have stress and suppress it as we climb the ladder, forced to fit into a definition. Some of us eventually let go of dreams and desires in order to find something where we can succeed, according to the world’s standard, something where we can please our parents or pay the bills. We trade the fun and hope we had playing with our creativity, giving up the sense of purpose, for a paycheck, for a position in the order of things, thinking this is the way the world works. Blogging and other ways of expression happening on the Internet can help to restore who we were as kids.
  • This argument of passion versus perfection is important to me because I’m looking for what I lost earlier in life. I did well in school. I studied hard. Ted jokes he had to compete with the Sciences Library for my Friday nights when we were dating. However I didn’t have a lot of passion for it. In retrospect, I was like a robot. I turned into someone performing for grades and acceptance. Sure, I liked my classes. I was a good student. But there were fears larger than my passion. I had lots of discipline. But I didn’t have desire, at least not as much as I could have. This was also true for me in my spiritual life. Actions came easy but passion was harder. I’ve learned I can do plenty of things without having the heart behind them, turning off emotions for what I think is a crucial mission. It is now years later that I feel free to pursue my desires. The world seems exciting and new to me. I spend what spare time I have exploring subjects that didn’t interest me in earlier years, finding who I am, who I was years ago as a little girl. As a mom, I’m encouraging my kids to do whatever they enjoy. I want them to do well but I also want them to continue in whatever they were created to create, no matter what label others may apply to them. Ted and I hope our daughters will continue in both discipline and desire, that they will find passion and purpose, that they will exhibit excellence, not only in what they do, but in who they are.

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