Friday, December 16, 2005

The Plague of the Perfectionist

I didn't write this, but it's so good, I needed to pass it along.  It's written by Jim Paluch who owns a training firm. 

Are you putting unreasonable demands on yourself by setting the bar too high? Do you expect too much from your children, spouse or employees? Do you feel that the world is exerting pressure on you from every angle? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you just might be a perfectionist.

The perfectionist often sets very high standards for him/herself and others that are impossible or often frustrating to accomplish. While lofty standards are a good thing, they can become a barrier rather than an aid to completing a task, running a company or nurturing a relationship. Whether you are a perfectionist or you are dealing with a perfectionist, it’s good to realize the balance necessary for getting the desired results without experiencing the pitfalls of perfectionism.

The healthy balance between high expectations and finding reasonable results involves the desire to excel and take pleasure from putting in extraordinary efforts without feeling compelled to be perfect. It is found in setting high standards while accepting personal limitations for yourself and those around you so everyone feels good about a job well done.

Perfectionism takes a nasty turn, however, when it involves excessively demanding standards that consistently cause stress, unhappiness and criticism. When something has to be perfect to be appreciated or accepted, we stall progress and very often squelch the enthusiasm and satisfaction associated with the task. Sometimes perfectionists are actually less effective because they fret about mistakes, worry about slow progress, and try too hard to get it perfect.

I was caused to think about this topic when I received a fun email from one of my friends this week. I was challenging him to follow his ability to share great ideas and to start writing a book . . .

"Oh how I'd love to write but at this stage of my life and financial position I think it would be difficult. I think there are enough starving artists out there. I think my family would suffer too much. I think it takes me too long to write 1500 words. I think the best story is yet to happen. I think I'm too much of a perfectionist.

"I think that even if it's not yet the best story ever it could only get better. I think I could write a few words a day. Maybe I think too much."

"The greatest enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan." - Prussian General Karl von Clausewitz, Vom Kreig, 1832

His response was humorous but I thought, “He should just do it. Why not write an introduction and then one paragraph at a time!” As the perfectionist has a strong need to avoid mistakes, the innovator goes for it, takes a shot and then makes it right. So what if writing a book takes a year or two or three to complete; it is an exciting process worth every minute of effort. Even if it's never published and sold, it is an accomplishment to enjoy. As I was writing my first book, I just wanted to create a story that was meaningful. The words were far from perfect and would go through many rounds of edits before the world would read them, but the story came alive because I allowed the words to “dump” from my heart and mind onto the computer keyboard. It was after the creation was finished that each book became polished and groomed into a finished piece. If I had been concerned that every sentence was perfect before I moved on to the next I would have certainly written one chapter of one book and that would have been it!

I have found the same to be true working with people or building relationships. When we trust our instincts and talents and those of others, then we can accomplish great things. Set high standards, set great challenges and strive for the best, but remember “perfection” is a prescription for unrecognized success. Expect the best from yourself and others and exercise patience all along the journey as you find ways to achieve it.

- Jim Paluch



Ten Top Signs Your a Perfectionist

1. You can't stop thinking about a mistake you made.

2. You are intensely competitive and can't stand doing worse than others.

3. You either want to do something "just right" or not at all.

4. You demand perfection from other people.

5. You won't ask for help if asking can be perceived as a flaw or weakness.

6. You will persist at a task long after other people have quit.

7. You are a fault-finder who must correct other people when they are wrong.

8. You are highly aware of other people's demands and expectations.

9. You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of other people.

10. You noticed the error in the title of this list.

Source: The BBC News Online



A man would do nothing, if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done."



Follow Up on "Dancing Girls"

I have a friend who writes me from time to time regarding something she read on this here Blog.  She was so brilliant, you have to read what she said. Names changed to protect the innocent : 
I went to read about the trees but got more riled up on the other - just had to comment - girls dancing sex - yes, it is wrong and stupid and pointless - too many parents sex up their kids before they are ready or before it is useful - what is the point?  In real practical life, such behavior is to lure in a mate for reproductive purposes.  yet, parents of grade schoolers drive their kids to 'dates' to movies and the mall on weekends and dress them up at ridiculous expense for junior high dances and allow them to watch waaaaaay toooooo much MTV (as in any) and to spend hours with their friends learning the moves and allow them to wear sexy clothing.  If we want our kids to go to college and marry after that, at say, 22, why make then start dating at 12?  Does it take 10 years of sexual taunting and being taunted to find a mate?  Or should that 10 years be spent on education and learning to socialize and practicing at being friends with lots of people and managing life?  With a good background in all that, it outta take a couple years or even just a few MONTHS at most to pin down a spouse.
They let their kids start this in grade school and ramp it up in Jr. High then a few years later they worry that they will have pregnant teens and same actually do and sneak the pregnant 13 year old off for a secret abortion over the weekend and are shocked to find that 13, 14, year olds are having oral sex with each other - they got the anti-preggo message but also got the sex is really really cool message - how can this be good for minds and egos and emotions that are developing?  How can it be good for a kid trying to develop a sense of self and self-esteem to have sex mixed into the boil? 
At our elementary school, we had a 'talent show' - most of it was lip syncing to rap and way too mature pop music with dancing in inappropriate attire - one was a high school girl with her elementary age sister in denim hot pants twitching, well, never mind, but 'cute' that the girl and her teen sister are involved together in it but what sort of mom allows THAT innuendo laden crap to go on?  Would have been just a cute in jeans and proper dance moves.  But they HAD to have been practicing in the home in mom's presence for weeks!! 
I have been ranting about this for years.  Once when Joe was out of town, and Bobby was going to play his bowed psaltery (as in high pitched harp - folk music) and his mountain dulcimer and his friends who were talented sisters playing at a high school level in 3rd and 5th grades on violin and cello and piano, I asked a friend to go with me.  I had forgotten about the hideous tone of the event as we had been focused household wise on the folk and classical stuff, and I was so embarrassed I mean REALLY REALLY embarrassed to and for and with my friend - and of course they had saved the best for last so Bobby was in the last few acts and the talented girls were dead last so we had to sit through - during the sleazy acts I just kept looking for the parents of the girls and there they'd be sitting, beaming as though the, well never mind, -twitching was somehow an accomplishment.   I just don't get it.
And then, at the high school fund raiser pancake breakfast where we go to hear my fiddle player son play violin in orchestra, the next act is a coed dance troupe and the girls are wearing mesh tops over midriff baring job bras and hip hugger knit pants and thank goodness my delicate teen son was busy hogging down his post performance free pancakes or I would have had to drop him to the floor and cover his eyes.
School sanctioned extra-curricular group.  Hip swaying and more with bare bellies covered (suggestively?) in mesh?   Breast shimmying?  Arms pressing cleavage together?? DANCE????
Why?  I must be a fuddy duddy too, because, as liberal as I am, I still think it is wrong.  If it looks like sex to us, it is and it is inappropriate for children.  And they are still children. 
The other side effect is that it deteriorates the parent child relationship.  Kids naturally need to break away and rebel at some point, and if a parent has given in to this crap and even encourages it and then suddenly balks when the kids appears to maybe actually be DOING IT, that sends an inconsistent message that the kids turns into the parent being a dork and there goes the respect.  Parents need to be consistent and cannot call it cute at some age then try later to correct the mistake!!   And caving in to the everyone is doing it mentality also undermines any respectful parent-child relationship. 
My kids may not be perfect, but I have stood ground on violence and TV and such and its been worth it.  They are not prudes, as we listen to sexually explicit Rolling Stones lyrics that they understand the context of and they understand that it is an adult song about things adults in relationships do and are NOT hip twitching in rhythm to it. 
Jeeze, I worry, and as much as I worry about this, I worry about the violence more, because these kids on their video games practice killing and torturing and destroying every day over and over and at some point, when I am drooling in a nursing home, they will be making decisions about my well-being and a system of kids with such a cavalier attitude cannot be moderated by a few sane ones such as mine.  I worry . . .

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Let us Pray?

The Lords Prayer


I have had a Love/Hate relationship with it for most of my spiritual life. 


I have been to seminars about it.  It’s rehearsed every Sunday in Church.  Even in my Catholic dalliances it was featured.


My concern is it’s rote-ness and familiarity that breeds contempt. 


Yet, conceptually it’s a valid prayer form with much to teach us.  Jesus never intended people to pray it as a form prayer.  The format is the issue.  Exemplar ducat. 


According to the Gospel of Gene (a 67th book I hope makes the canon) here is what Jesus was trying to teach:


Our Father

Abba (Daddy)

He is our daddy (Hebrew Abba).   Ultimate Daddy, since he is creator of all things.  So, how do you address the one who is progenitor of all including you?

Intimately, perfectly Daddy. 


Who Art in Heaven

You are present everywhere and you reign in heaven

Omnipresence of God is a fact but his perfect reign is in eternity in the heavens (Still a mystery).  Satan is ruler of this world and we are strangers in a strange land.  In the world, not of it.


Hallowed be thy Name

Your name is unlike any other name.  Your name is perfect, Holy, set apart, untouchable.

Even the Children of Abraham were afraid to speak or write his name.  It is so unknown yet so perfect.  When Moses asked, “who shall I say to Pharaoh sent me, God said, “You shall say I AM sent you”.  God’s name is so unknowable it can only be understood as the God who really IS.  That’s what put the Pharisees off so much, Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I AM”.  HE had the audacity to proclaim himself GOD.  He was either insane or he is true God.  I’ll take letter B.


Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Let your perfect plan of goodness happen on earth as it does in Eternity.  We long for the day when you will be our earthly King and every knee will bow.

God’s will is NOT done on earth today.  If it were we wouldn’t have pain, death, suffering, war, and sin.  His will is to give us a hope and a future.  In heaven there is no such conflict.  God is King.  His will is done perfectly there. Someday he will be King on the earth.  There will be lions lying down with the lamb and swords shaped into plowshares.  Let’s hope for sooner not later.


Give us this day our daily bread

We need your provision every day, bodily in what you place in our hands, and the word you feed into our spirit. 

Jesus told the devil, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”.  So, when we ask God for Bread we mean both.  I love to eat and drink well (sometimes too much), but I need to hear from God in my spirit.  Both are essential for life.  And I need it every day, I can’t store it up, it’s daily manna.


And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us.

I need forgiveness, I will forgive; I have hurt you, I will forgive others who have hurt me. 

Sometimes this is made pretty conditional.  I’m not convinced.  Jesus even taught about the unforgiving servant who was forgiven much.  But we are mortal.  We forgive not because we are forgiven.  We forgive much when we understand the power of forgiveness.  We never really get perfection this side of the veil.  It’s a process.  Hence the words, “AS we forgive”.  


And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

Don’t let me be found in a place where temptation might overwhelm me, deliver me from the evil which traps me.  I’m weak, you are strong.

Does God lead us into being tempted?  I don’t think so but I think as we walk in our life we CAN find ourselves in places of temptation.  It’s only thru being delivered can we escape from it.  I have never succumbed to a temptation (I’m an expert at succumbing I’m afraid) that I didn’t have a path out of it in retrospect.  I just didn’t take it.  I’m asking God to be strong in my life and put up large yellow DANGER signs when I’m on the road to stupidity.


For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.

Only you daddy are King in the kingdom of my life, only you daddy are the one with ultimate power in my life, only you daddy deserve any credit, honor or glory given, none to me, for as long as eternity lasts.  Only YOU Abba, only you.

God is King over all things.  I’m not. But the Kingdom I am most concerned about is the realm under my control.  My life, my family, my work, my friendships, my health.   I am thankful for the next breath I breath.  It’s only by my King I am allowed to take it.



Let it be so in my life.

Amen is a word that just means let it be.  We never knew the Beatles were so prophetic. 


I don’t think a prayer in the key of Gene will sell.  I don’t expect it to be part of the Rosary any time soon.  But it’s meaningful to me:


Abba (Daddy)

You are present everywhere and you reign in heaven

Your name is unlike any other name. 

Your name is perfect, Holy, set apart, untouchable.

Let your perfect plan of goodness happen on earth as it does in Eternity. 

We long for the day when you will be our earthy King and every knee will bow.

We need your provision every day, bodily in what you place in our hands, and the word you feed into our spirit. 

I need forgiveness, I will forgive; I have hurt you, I will forgive others who have hurt me. 

Don’t let me be found in a place where temptation might overwhelm me, deliver me from the evil which traps me.  I’m weak, you are strong.

Only you daddy are King in the kingdom of my life, only you daddy are the one with ultimate power in my life, only you daddy deserve any credit, honor or glory given, none to me, for as long as eternity lasts.  Only YOU Abba, only you.


Let it be so in my life.


Jesus was always so much better at economy of words than me.  I like his version better.



Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Apostate Agnostic Religion Professors

Last Week on Public Radio, a department of Religion head from the University of North Carolina was speaking with Dianne Rehm regarding a new book he just released: Misquoting Jesus.  His Name is Bart Ehrman


He freely admits he is no longer a Christian.  He was a student for 3 years at Moody Bible Institute and 3 years at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution.  And now he's proudly and happily an agnostic. He is the head of the Dept of Religion at the University of North Carolina.


His book questions EVERYTHING about the tenets of the Bible.  If a person was on the fence and was looking for a reason NOT to believe you could find it there.  He attempts to debunk pretty much everything including the virgin birth, divinity of Jesus, and much of the old Testament. 


He pretty much doesn’t believe anything he used to.  And he is trying his best to destroy belief in others by what he writes and teaches.  These people are teaching impressionable young people pure mental mush.  And worse tax dollars are doing it.   This is just plain wrong.  Where are the Church State Sereratetists in all this?


Ehrman is not as Anti Christian as the writings and attacks of the now former Head of the Department of Religion at Kansas University.  Paul Meircki


He's the guy I'm wrote about below who wanted to present a class called "Creation and other myths of Religion".  He has since stepped down as dept head under pressure after derogatory emails about Christians were found written by him and many (including me) created an uproar.


I have a few questions which theologians in education at colleges, particularly Christian Colleges should be responsible to answer those of us who have become very suspect of anything that comes from the apostate Religion departments of academia, even from so called Christian Colleges:


  • Why do educational institutions seem determined to put into the leadership of Religion departments those people that seem determined to oppose the Gospel?


  • How did a man like Ehrman who was 6 years in what I would have thought to be good sound conservative education in this area become an avowed agnostic?


  • Why do the emanations from Religion departments of most academic institutions seem not just content to teach about religion but to take a tact directly opposing faith in God? 


I have taken a position to stop reading most “Christian Books" because I   so many are faith robbing and compromised.  This kind of thing only reinforces my view.  I am very careful what I will allow in my mind and spirit anymore.


I will admit, I am NOT open-minded about this.  “I know in whom I have believed......”


Someone in the know somehow please help those of us on the radical outskirts come to grips with an apostate academic community trying to teach what they don't believe or understand (blinded  2 Cor. 4:2-4 ) .


I understand we are to pray for these men.  But, Jesus didn't spend much time trying to reform the Pharisees.  Not that he didn't care, but because they were teachers and that calling was more accountable He confronted them directly.  “Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment”.  James 3:1


WWJD with these two and the hundreds of others, some perhaps even at a Christian College near you?  This is an area of deep concern for me, I'm hoping someone has an answer on how we as believers should approach and confront this direct attack on the faith.





Monday, December 12, 2005

For a Few Bushels More

Almost 20 years ago our family moved to Illinois from a farm north of Harwood ND (about 15 miles north of Fargo). It was a farm I had bought nearly 18 years before. During that time we had built a new house on it. Had planted a lot of trees, had built a road, dug a well, and lots of other improvements.

It wasn’t a really prosperous farm (only about 120 acres but it was pretty. It bordered the Sheyenne river for about 2 miles. It weaved and bobbed the edge of our property.

This was a riverside of character. I spent days walking this, cutting firewood from it, cultivating and just enjoying it for what it was.

When we moved we no longer owned the farm. Our neighbors bought it.

After a couple years I revisited the place we had built. It was a painful experience. It was a mistake. It was like visiting a crime scene.

  • Nearly all the outbuildings had been leveled.
  • There were trees lining the river and particularly near the buildings. They were nearly all bulldozed over.
  • Hundreds of Trees I had planted were gone.
  • Much of the roadway I had built was pushed aside.

What was the purpose? Dirt. Simply Black Dirt.

All this destruction to gain about 5 acres of additional farmland. Tillable acres when I owned it was about 90 of 120 acres. With these changes there were about 95 of 120.

The buildings were old and not real fancy. OK. Some of the trees I had planted needed to go if they had died. Please spare me the argument, " when you sold it you no longer had a say. The guy you bought it from might have said the same thing." YADDA YADDA YADDA

The part that was and is to this day a sticking point in my craw are the ancient native towering Oaks, Linden (Basswood), Ash, and Ironwood that were part of that riverbank culture. I know something about trees and some of the Oaks that were pushed over for an extra acre were 200 years old.

I am a Christian. I am supposed to be forgiving. I try. This one I’m not quite over. Greed driven slash and burn agriculture as practiced in North Dakota and many other states is nearly the worst kind of rape next to actual physical rape.

If the family who bought this reads this and is offended. Sorry. So was I; no, so am I.