Excellence vs Perfection

By Robin Stevens, Internal Operations Coach

Do you understand the difference between striving for excellence and striving for perfection? Let’s look at what these two very different concepts mean.

Perfection is striving for something that doesn’t exist. Because it doesn’t exist, it’s unattainable, and you’ll always be left feeling as though you’re not good enough. When you think about it, what do we have that’s actually perfect? We often refer to something like “the perfect day” because we FEEL a certain way, but in and of itself, the actual day was not PERFECT. Perfection doesn’t allow for the ever changing circumstances that come our way.

Excellence, on the other hand, does exist. Striving for excellence means striving for YOUR personal best. It is a healthy way to improve the things in your life that are not serving you while, at the same time, celebrating what is. It is about doing your best within the ever changing environment we live and work in.

Excellence focuses your attention on what’s right and working well, rather than what’s not working – and this keeps your attention on the positives and how things could be even better. Excellence is limitless and progressive, since you can always reach for greater and greater excellence. Whereas perfection can never be achieved.

Your body and actions will also help you be aware of the difference between the two. Your body never lies, so I want you to notice how perfection and excellence feel in your body. When you are excelling at something, you feel relaxed, expansive, receptive, and accomplished. When you are striving to be perfect, you feel stress, tightness, constriction, and defeated.

Perfectionists remember mistakes and dwell on them. Perfectionists want to be number one, while pursuers of excellence can live with not being the best, while knowing they have tried their best. Perfectionists have to win to keep a high self-esteem. Pursuers of excellence can finish second and still feel good about themselves. Perfectionists hate criticism, pursuers of excellence see criticism as a way to learn.

So remember – you don’t have to always do things right – as long as you always do the right thing. Life is much more rewarding and enjoyable this way!

Excellence vs Perfection


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