Secular holiday Sunday. I’m down with it, but for the love of all things non-material, please kill the Pro Bowl and return to the original one week between conference finals and kickoff.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a Peyton Manning essay by Stefan Fatsis on Slate.com Friday. I’ve enjoyed listening to Fatsis, a sports business analyst/writer on National Public Radio over the last few years. He also writes for the Wall Street Journal. Smart, fast-talker, good insights. He lets his hair down a little in the Manning piece.
Fatsis’ piece brought to mind lots of things including what a curse perfectionism is for those encumbered by it. Perfectionists can’t help but project their unusually high and often unrealistic expectations onto others which subjects them to perpetual frustration. Others can’t measure up.
When I finished writing my lengthy self-assessment for promotion recently, I felt a real sense of accomplishment, but not in the way you might expect. Here’s the truth of the matter. I could be a better teacher, scholar, and university citizen (the shorthand term for service). And I could be a better husband, father, son, brother, and friend. And I could be a better triathlete and blogger. And I could read more fiction, keep the gutters cleaner, and manage my time better.
My sense of accomplishment comes from fulfilling a wide range of roles as well as possible. I’m never going to win an MVP (most valuable professor) award or the Hawaii Ironman and I don’t anticipate, fourteen, seventeen, and forty-nine (yikes, did I just out the gal pal as not young, more evidence I fall short as a husband) ever teaming up on a sculpture in honor of me (my birthday is fast approaching though).
I choose to live a more balanced life than Manning, that doesn’t make me better, just different. Would I like to play in the Super Bowl*, of course, but I would not have traded the breadth of life experience I’ve enjoyed for that type of single-minded success.
At times, I wonder if I use the “balance” argument as an excuse for not pursuing excellence in a particular area for a particular time. Do I opt for success out of fear of Success? I wonder, maybe I should dedicate myself to excellence in one role, whether to write a book, race an Ironman well, or become the man my dog thinks I am—for a period of time. It’s very hard for me to accept doing some things poorly in order to do one thing especially well.
I expect the Colts to win, but I’ll be pulling for the Saints. And if the Saints pull the upset, I’ll be watching for Peyton to blow.
* I realized my football career was pointless in eighth grade when I was a bad-ass (a legend in my own mind) cornerback for the Lexington Lions. Screen pass to the other team’s stud who looked like it was his third go-round in eighth grade. Someone missed their assignment and I was unblocked. Closed the eyes, wrapped, wrapped, uh, wiffed. Started playing more golf at that point!