Being Perfect

"The truth isn't what I said, and now it's gone - this story was so perfect for so long. And I mean that, as I try to take myself out of the situation and I look at it. You overcome the disease, you win the Tour de France seven times. You have a happy marriage, you have children. I mean, it's just this mythic perfect story, and it wasn't true." Lance Armstrong

It's such a powerful quote and it sums up much of what we try and do with our lives. That is: project out some kind of happy image and then just hope everything else will naturally follow on. As if somehow by looking good on the outside (with good grades, good lifestyle etc) we will be content and fulfilled on the inside.

My old school also believed in this awkward bias to outside achievements instead of inward development. Succeeding at extra-curriculars was good because it allowed them to put a press release in the local  paper and allowed us to put it on our UCAS forms. Good grades were a means to an end, something that allowed you to continue to the next stage of life.

Are we doing what we're doing because we actively enjoy it and prefer it to the alternatives or are we simply meandering along trying to live up to the expectations of others while trying to show we enjoy it? We should choose more closely where we want to be successful. Prioritise personal character and relationships.

There are two problems with how Lance presents his thoughts:
1) Firstly, his thinking that it was the end destination and not the journey that was important
2) Secondly, his thinking that once he had completed his "perfect story" that he would be satisfied.

You can have two people who look similar on the surface but their journey to that point will often dictate their different outcomes in the future. The house built on the rock and sand look the same on the surface but one will crumble at the first sign of trouble. This is because the house on the sand hasn't gone through the journey of building solid foundations.

A person who steadily becomes successful in business over a number of years is likely to be more prudent and wise with the money than someone who received a similar amount of wealth by an overnight windfall. The famous example of Michael Carroll shows the need to grow in financial wisdom in order to be responsible with money. 

We put celebrities on pedestals generally because of some kind of worldly success. But behind this front of achievement are some of the most broken people in our society. If this is true why do many people still aspire to this level of notoriety? We need to find a way to get past the vanity. To put things in perspective. To get context.

Lance believed in a 'win at all costs' scenario. Yet when he 'won', he realised  he hadn't actually won. Because hadn't done it in the right way, it seemed meaningless to him. Achieving the goals in themselves wasn't enough.

I think 'being perfect' is much more about using the talents that we have been given and being humble and respectful of that. If you are an awesome baker and love nothing more than making a fresh batch of pain au chocolat at 5am, don't be resentful you're not the next George Clooney and instead concentrate on using the talents that you have been given to the best of your ability.

This one of my favourite videos on TED. Watch to the end and be challenged be it.