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Josh, when you play so competitively in basketball the addictive behavior I see in you is perfection.

I heard this during a Feedback Meeting when I was in drug rehab. We would take turns going around the room and pointing out addictive behaviors in our peers. I believe perfection was my most popular addictive behavior (I think second was masking with humor).

I prefer the word competitive over perfectionist. It has a more athletic and honorable feel to it. Perfection sounds too rigid and exact. But whatever the case may be it was a label given to me by my peers in recovery so I had to process it.

And even today, almost eight years after it was first brought to my attention that perfectionism could be a bad thing I still ponder its place in my life. I value the drive I have in me to win but I hate the paralyzing effect perfection can have. It really is a love-hate-relationship with this so called “character defect”.

You know, growing up I never thought being competitive was a bad thing.

I’m the oldest of five kids and from a young age I can remember a strong desire to always win. There were four of us boys and one girl. We were all into sports, so competitiveness was glorified. Yes, we played hockey to “have fun”. But we all knew the real reason was to win. When I lost I was mad and depressed. When we won I was content and the world was a better place.

I’m 27 years old now and I still get mad when I lose and happy when I win. Some things haven’t changed much. But some things have. Today I do look at perfectionism differently. I can see that a desire to always win and always be right can be unhealthy, especially now that I’m married (I can see all you married people nodding your head). But I still like to win. And I still want to pursue excellence.

There’s a proverb that reads, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings not mere men.” I like that proverb. It’s an honor to stand before kings. But another proverb reads, “Before honor is humility.” They are both true. If we want to be people of influence in our generation we need both excellence and humility. I know, honor and excellence seem to mix as good as oil and water. But this is God’s way. In His kingdom the best can also be the most humble. For us it’s weird. For Him it’s normal.

I said all that to say this, pursue excellence and not perfectionism. Why? Excellence allows you to try your best. Perfectionism wont allow you to try unless you think you’re the best. That’s all I got for now but what are your thoughts about perfectionism and excellence?

About Josh Monen

Josh is a Christian, entrepreneur and writer from Ridgefield, WA. He's married with three kids: ages 4, 2 and 1. Before he met God, Josh was a drug addict with a $500/day cocaine addiction that almost killed him. Today he's seeking a real authentic relationship with God and others.