Reader Joe Geneva sent this to me via email, I thought it was quite good and he kindly let me share it -
Hi Sebastian, just wanted to remark upon something I've seen lately. The sheer amount of opportunity around me.
In any given day there's more opportunity then you will ever have time for, probably more then anyone one person can use. Yet we don't use it. We procrastinate or rationalize, we make excuses for ourselves and for others, and talk among ourselves about why we can't achieve things, or put ourselves down. We never truly seem to recognize how much sheer opportunity there is to be taken.
I often hear people remarking about being bored. This irritates the hell out of me, especially when I'm somewhere where i know for a fact there's 20 easily found activities to do. Why do people seem totally oblivious to this... do they have no motivation to improve themselves, or think they are already perfect or something.. It seems a bit mystifying why people don't constantly look for ways to get better at things.
Now after all this criticism its time to talk about myself a bit, and touch on another subject. Why is it so hard to improve ourselves? I don't mean improve our productive time or finding things to learn, i mean why is the desire to get better so hard to achieve, and especially see the big picture. For example, if you give it some thought, you can take any problem, break it into its basic components, figure out what you need to learn, then Google it. It's that easy (for those of us with internet). Yet we don't do it nearly as much as we should. I could list about 20 things off the top of my head to Google right now, information that might alter my life immediately. Yet its really hard to go through with it... As though we were actively holding back ourselves.
I work to be a perfect writer, a perfect friend, a perfect programmer, a perfect son and brother, a perfect motorcycle rider, and a perfect violinist. I also want to have perfect discipline, be perfect at picking where to focus my energy, and be perfect at things I don't even know how to do, like painting. At the same time, I realize that I will never be perfect at any of these things, even the ones I'm fairly good at. Some I will never be better than terrible at.
I also know that if the path to perfection were symbolized by a yardstick, I wouldn't be more than an inch or two from the start at even my best skills. That's not false modesty-- it's an acknowledgment of the impossibility of actually reaching perfection. It's so far out of reach that even excellence is very far away from it.
If there's no chance of ever reaching perfection, whats the point of striving for it? Goals can be many things-- they can motivate, but they can just as easily demoralize if you're not deliberate in how you use them. I think of goals as a guiding light, drawing me in the right direction.
If the journey is more important than the destination, then making sure one's journey is on the right path is all the more important. Having an impossible goal like perfection not only keeps you on the right path, but it focuses you on the journey. You can't look for shortcuts, arguing that the ends will justify the means, because there is no end. Instead, you see every decision in the harsh light of perfection, and are nudged towards the best path. Being imperfect, I make many mistakes and accidentally get sidetracked, but even so I move slowly in the right direction.