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I want to be Effective Not Perfect

January 22, 2018

I want to be Effective not Perfect. I went to a funeral the other day. The Women who was being Eulogized was my first Sunday school teacher, when I was a youngster. She was 96 years old upon her passing. Mrs. “E” was quite a character. And as usual when people get up to talk about the person who is deceased, they say only good things, warm and fuzzy for the sake of the family. However Mrs. “E”s” funeral was very honest. Not that there were bad things to say, they just were not warm and fuzzy. You see Mrs. “E” was the original “Madea” without the gun and curse words. As one of the persons who had got up to speak described her, “ She was keeping it 100% before anyone knew what that was; she was real before it became popular to say keeping it real.” Everyone had funny antidotes of how she would discipline us in her Sunday school classes and outside of the classes. The one thing that was consistent across the comments was the gratefulness for her now that we are adults. We realize that she was keeping us safe from the evils of the world. Mrs. “E” had three adult children and grandchildren at the funeral. They all laughed when we told our stories of her antics. Mrs. “E” would not have wanted it any other way, because she was never afraid of the truth. Mrs. “E” was also a Girl and Boy Scout leader, which she did for several decades. She was an usher at her church that she belonged to for 65 years. Yes 65 years. You talk about dedication. I could go on and on about this woman.

However none of that would have mattered, if her children had not benefitted from her life service. Mrs. “E’s”only son was one of the last persons to give remarks, about his mother and like her he kept it real. Now all of Mrs. “E’s” children are very successful. All college graduates, successful marriages, and the next generation is doing good as well. Her son spoke about her antics with them at home. One of the many things that he stated that hit the mark was that Mrs. “E’s” public life matched her private life. Therefore he and his siblings never saw any hypocrisy in their mother. Now how many people can honestly say that? I believe hypocrisy is one of the reasons why so many children are rebelling against their parents. They see their their parent’s living double lives. I tried hard not to be a hypocrite to my children. Children will keep you honest if you let them and whenever they called me out on my behavior, I didn’t try to justify it, I apologized for it. Your children will respect you more if you’re honest. Mrs. “E’s” son talked about her being consistent. I liked when he said “You can set the time by my mother she was so consistent” However the statement that really touched my core being was when he said “My mother was not perfect but she was effective.” I felt a jolt in my spirit: Perfection vs. Effectiveness. Wow that spoke volumes to me and the wheels began to move in my brain.

So I asked myself the question have I been dealing in perfectionism or effectiveness? My sons have turned out pretty successful. Even further, on my job, in my relationships, doing service or ministry do I want to be perfect or effective? In an article from Psychology today the writer describes perfectionism. They say for the perfectionist, life is an endless report card on successes or ones appearance. It’s a fast and long-lasting track to unhappiness. It is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. Perfectionism is toxic rather than positive. The person desires success, but they are more focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. Even love isn’t a refuge; it’s usually too conditional on performance. Perfection is an abstraction, impossibility in reality, which unchecked it can lead to procrastination. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. They went on to say that the need for perfection is usually conveyed in small ways from parents to children. They give the example of the parent that gives the child a raised eyebrow when they get a B rather than an A on their report card. That is perfectionism. What does it mean to be effective?

Effective in my experience as a parent and leader was more about others and less about me. You look at every experience as a journey to discovery. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. You set boundaries of course. However be prepared to explain why the boundaries are in place. Whether persons agree with you or not at least they know where you stand and be consistent. No one respects people who waver back and forth. There may be times when you have to use discipline but never take a person’s dignity. I would punish my children but never would I tear them down or break their spirit. I also made sure I lifted them up, there was balance. I was the same way with my subordinates that I supervised on the job. I tried to lead by example. Be the example of the behavior that you want the persons under you to display. One of my favorite questions when I was talking to either my children or employees was “Do I treat you like that?” If they were honest and had any conscience they would drop their heads and reply “No you don’t” From there we would find middle ground. Being effective is helping the people you have been entrusted with to get where they need to be by empowering them. You give them the support they need until you feel comfortable that they can handle it on their own. But you also have to be honest with them. To be effective is to understand they everyone is different, there is no blanket way to get people to their goals. Everyone’s motivation is different. One child’s motivation may be compliments while another’s may be external, they may need to see a star on a piece of paper. I feel that I have been effective in most of my walk; however there is always room for improvement and an effective person remains teachable.

So my prayer is when one of my children does my Eulogy one day he will give me the wonderful tribute that Mrs. “E’s” son gave her. I just want my walk in life to be effective.

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