From the Music and the Spoken Word Broadcast on Sunday, February 8, 2015:
No one ever does everything perfectly right all the time. Each of us makes mistakes and falls short of perfection. That’s life, and that’s OK.
Broadway musical star Idina Menzel shared how she came to this realization. Recently, she wrote: “There are about 3 million notes in a two-and-a-half-hour musical; being a perfectionist, it took me a long time to realize that if I’m hitting 75 percent of them, I’m succeeding. . . . I am more than the notes I hit, and that’s how I try to approach my life. You can’t get it all right all the time, but you can try your best. If you’ve done that, all that’s left is to accept your shortcomings and have the courage to try to overcome them.”1
It’s not that lofty goals, big plans, and high expectations are bad. We grow by stretching, by courageously striving to achieve more than we previously thought possible. But growth also requires patience and perspective. Sometimes we give up on ourselves too early, we start to define ourselves by our mistakes, or we expect perfection and are therefore forever disappointed. When this happens, we may need to ease up and simplify our lives.
For an overwhelmed college student, that meant lightening her schedule and her expectations a bit. For a busy mother, it meant deciding to go a little easier on herself and her children. For all of us, it can mean that we simply do our best—not someone else’s best.
We are all far more than the notes we hit—or fail to hit. Perhaps we should define ourselves not by what we are today but by what we can be, by what we aspire to be. Wherever those aspirations are leading us, let us accept that success can happen over time, little by little. With this perspective, our mistakes and shortcomings can teach us instead of condemn us. In reality, this is what it means to do our best.
1. “Business Lesson: Idina Menzel,” Southwest: The Magazine, Nov. 2014, 57, http://www.southwestthemagazine.com/click_this/article/business_lesson_idina_menzel.
- Lloyd D. Newell
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