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Quality vs. Perfectionism

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Perfection is the enemy of the good.” —Voltaire

I am sometimes a perfectionist. That’s no good. You might think that perfect is best. It is not.

Are you at times a perfectionist? How’s that working for you? When you get in the zone and you’re firing on all cylinders and working like a mad man/woman, you got the project in the can…well you thought, but there are some minor details, little tweaks that NEED to be made. How are your relationships affected when you are in this mode?

I’m just asking, because I’ve been there. And I know how limiting this state of being can be in those relationships most important to us.

But aren’t we supposed to bring our very best? Aren’t we to strive toward excellence? Is our work not to be quality?

Gary Molander, in his book, says

Perfect is a myth…Our lives are excellent. But they’re not perfect. Excellence requires that we take all of the ability given to us, and intersect that with all of the resources at our disposal. And we create from that exact intersection.”

Our best is good enough. As soon as those most dear to us go from supporting us to putting up with us, we’ve probably crossed the line into perfectionism.

Dr. Taylor Hartman sums this up wonderfully and arrives at the heart of the issue when he says

“[People] often ask me why [perfectionism] is a negative trait. The answer lies in the motive that drive perfectionism. Insecurity drives perfectionism, while quality originates from a legitimate valuing of excellence. The derivation of perfectionism and quality are exact opposites.”

Have you struggled with this tension? How do you know when you’ve wandered from quality into the wilderness of perfectionism?

Cited: Gary Molander “Pursuing Christ, Creating Art” and Dr. Taylor Hartman “The People Code”

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Noticing and Appreciating Excellence

November 24, 2011 3 comments

I recently had the privilege of hosting a Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit at our church in Brownsville. But there was something very different about this one, it was a Cumbre Global de Liderazgo, done entirely in Spanish. It’s the International model on US soil, which makes sense given that we’re in the Rio Grand Valley of Texas.

My charge and role was that of producer. The burden was on me to pull off an event that met Willow’s high standards of excellence  in a region that is typically (and I can say this because I live here) not always as keen on these characteristics.  Down here we start things late and go over our time limit. Flow is often interrupted by any number of things. Often there are technical difficulties and the response of the people is usually folks yelling “Gloria a Dios” (Glory to God) while someone scrambles to fix the problem.

I likened the whole thing to rolling a boulder up a hill. Willow’s 80 page pdfs fly in the face of conventional wisdom and practice. We had many obstacles to overcome. Fortunately I had some great help, and good people in the right seats on the bus. These volunteers caught the vision for something greater.

The local radio manager was brought into the planning committee and voiced some of the hurdles that we’d face. People down here don’t like spending money on conferences. They don’t like to plan ahead and pre-register. They don’t like the idea of a video-cast and feel it won’t be personal. We put all hands on deck and moved forward and broke through all of those seemingly impossible barriers. We had 230 leaders registered who interacted beautifully with the “video-cast” and live segments. The ice has been broken. This is a dream years in the making and is the right format to explode from here on out.

Those leaders who attended were so blown away by everything and especially the smoothness of all the programming. They noticed and appreciated the excellence with which things were done. Like I said– it really is a rarity and a unique trait down here. One of the coolest things was seeing people in there seats before the opening prelude video (we scheduled registration at 5pm and started at 6pm). There was a countdown in the registration area and in the auditorium. As I am seeing the countdown near it’s end and praying that everyone remembers the cues that we rehearsed and rehearsed I was surprised by something that I did not expect. At 5 seconds to start the audience started clapping! Right out of the gate excellence in the fact that we are starting when we said we would is making an impact.

Our technical team, assembled from various different churches, with limited experience in events of this caliber came together and became such a well-oiled machine. It made my job of producing a breeze. I did not expect to be so relaxed and at ease. I told them that, along with a quick word to not become complacent and be ready for anything. Every transition was fluid, no problems arose. The team worked so well together and the crowd was amazed. Willow’s training was to ensure that distractions were at a minimum and that people could receive the messages and programming elements that were planned. That’s what went down. It was amazing! Here’s one of my favorite pictures:

More pictures here- http://www.flickr.com/photos/brotherjohn/6349019562/sizes/z/in/set-72157628138147382/

It was also awesome to have two original pieces in the program- one potter video and a video made just for the Summit with local pastors in it. This was one of 4 cities in the US to have a Spanish Summit. The others were Chicago, LA, and NY! What an honor to have this unique event in our church. It made all of the hard work worth it.

My kids thought I was on a trip or something. I’d leave before they woke up and get home after they were asleep. They missed me and I them. On Thursday I got to the church at 7:30am and home at 12:30am only to go back at 2:30am and home at 3:30am and back at 8am or so. This was because the band I booked from Mexico arrived late due to some complications. They missed our dress rehearsal which made for a frantic Friday before our starting time. But it all worked out beautifully and come Saturday night, the band, myself and Andre Jennings who came down to train and help us, were celebrating a job well done at Cheddars.

While at Cheddars they asked us point blank, “Why all of the organization and practice and preparation? Shouldn’t there be room for the Spirit?” We gave our answers and they listened intently. We talked about the burden of time for people, respecting their busyness. A visitor may give church one shot and first impressions are vital. We talked about how our culture places a premium on excellence in their marketing of products, and we have the most important message of all and are far too content to package it in less than great ways.  Broadway will be flawless in their transitions because if they aren’t people won’t pay money to be entertained. I’m not talking about entertaining people in church, but rather transforming people and minds. How much more important? Sports teams practice and practice, two a days at times, to go out and compete. It’s a sport or a show. We have the gospel, but don’t want to practice or improve? We talked about how the Spirit can lead you in preparation, not just when things are live. It was a totally new and foreign concept to them! They said themselves that they had been to school and learned excellence and would be better for it. I guess we stretched them, and they did a terrific job in this new territory. Oh, and they gave me a great nickname– “Látigo Santo” (the holy whip).

I was glad to play a part in this difficult feat. It’s impact will be widespread. The emphasis placed on quality impressed so many that attended and they let us know. Quality vs. Perfectionism may be a future post, but is not really the point here. I don’t claim to be an expert in this area. I’m just a learner. In fact, I came out of this with many areas to tighten up in our own church.

How about you? How do you view excellence in the church?

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