Winston Churchill once made an interesting statement. “Success” he said, “is the ability to go from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.” Success may not lie in being perfect, but in determinedly endeavoring to move closer towards perfection. Thomas Edison was reputed to have never become discouraged in his attempts to invent the light bulb. Rather, he deemed every one of his failed attempts as a success – “Now I have discovered one more way that doesn’t work”.
It’s rare that we wake up one day and suddenly reach the perfection we always desired. More realistically, it will take a lifetime of struggle and incremental improvement. That journey, however, is joyful all the way when we learn to celebrate progress not perfection. Even in positions of leadership, we have to keep in mind peoples best efforts to improve and view their performance in that context. Where there is progress, perfection is only a matter of time.
In our spiritual endeavors there is also no shortage of failure. After analyzing our hearts and spiritual character many of us can safely conclude that we are definitely ‘works in progress.’ We hear accounts of spiritual practitioners who were completely selfless and pure in heart. Every one of their actions seems so perfect yet so natural at the same time. How do we relate to such perfect examples? Maybe a good measure is to compare with ourselves rather than comparing with others. Where was I one year ago and where am I now? Drawing inspiration and encouragement from the good example of others is essential, but we also have to understand that we are on our own spiritual journeys, experiencing our own individual difficulties and dealing with our own special obstacles. I am trying to focus on how to progress on that journey, more than lamenting about how short I fall from perfection.