Category Archives: Excellence

Excellence VS Perfectionism

OCPD perfectionism originates from a good place, excellence.

When you have excellence in a particular area in your life, you will naturally have higher standards in that area. Maybe you’ve got excellence in cleanliness. Maybe you’ve got excellence in morals. I have excellence in story telling.

What this means is that you have a clearer picture in your head of how amazing things could be. You see all the small details that make up that beautiful end result. Your mind downloads all these strategies on how to produce that end result. It’s not easy bringing things up to your high standards. So naturally, you’re a very hard worker in this area. And when your vision of excellence comes to life, it fills your heart with excitement and other people also go “Wow!” Excellence is an amazing quality to have and it can really bring a lot of positive changes to the world.

It does come with some challenges though. If in your head it is so clear that things could be much better, there is a gap between how things are and how things could be. The existence of this gap can be quite emotionally disturbing. When children first experience this, their natural instinct is to remove this disturbing feeling right away. “I don’t like how this feels. I need to find a way to make it go away.” So what many children will attempt to do is close this gap, not by bringing their bar down – because you cannot unsee the excellence that has already been implanted into your head – but instead, by bringing how things currently are up.

Now on the outside, this is going to look quite promising. You’ll see that your child is working very hard. You might be like, “Wow, my child already has such great work ethic!” But it is very possible that, underneath it all, anger and frustration may be beginning to well up inside of him because, no matter how hard he tries, it seems like that gap just won’t go away. This anger may grow until it causes the child to finally explode. By this point, the child decides that it’s just not worth it to keep going. He gives himself immediate gratification in the removal of this discomfort.

Immediate gratification is not good in the long run. By doing this, this child foregoes his opportunity to build up his tolerance for this discomfort. So if he continues to do this throughout his life and no parent or teacher stops him, he may grow up to be an adult who is equally incapable of handling this difficult emotion as his child-self. It will overwhelm him and cause him to have an all-or-nothing approach to his work. This is called perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the dark side of excellence. Rather than being pulled by your love for excellence, you’re pushed by your anxiety and displeasure of that “gap.” There is no grace. No room for error. Along the way, there’s so much stress and frustration. Perfectionism is so outcome focused that you are likely to antagonize yourself and everything else that seems to get in your way of removing that gap. So perfectionists often get angry at others. And even when perfectionists get their way, their satisfaction is very short-lived. It lasts just until another “gap” reappears.

Highly sensitive people and gifted children and adults are most likely to be affected by this.

If you want to set your children up for success, help your children experience delayed gratification. When their anger begins to boil inside of them, help them calm down. Show understanding of this frustration that they feel. Encourage them to invest their time into activities that will help them achieve their vision of excellence, such as practice. And encourage them to return back to their work, try and try again, and think positively all the way through.

If you’re an adult who struggles with perfectionism, push yourself to do the same thing too. It’s never too late.

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Guilt from Being Unproductive

It has been a while since I last wrote an update about my life. In fact, it has been a while since I last wrote anything on this blog. I have been mostly busy with going out and enjoying my city’s beautiful summer weather (Vancouver’s weather is pretty depressing all other times of the year). I have been spending so much time outside with others that I have found no time to read, research, study, write, work on music, or hit the gym. I don’t feel it as intensely as I did before when I used to be very OCPD, but I still do feel some guilt over not being super productive and not making the very best use of my time.

Gifted individuals and people with OCPD tend to feel extra guilty about not being productive.

Work on Vacation

So where does this guilt come from?

Well, first of all, emotionally sensitive people experience the emotion of guilt much more intensely than normal, average, boring people do (haha just kidding about the “boring” part). A stronger sense of responsibility comes with the territory of being highly emotionally sensitive. Because of their natural ability to see, imagine, envision, strategize, and produce excellence, gifted individuals and people with OCPD feel a very strong sense of responsibility to contribute excellence to the world. But excellence takes a lot of time and effort, no matter who you are, no matter how much talent you have. When this time and effort is not being invested, gifted individuals and people with OCPD feel guilty.

Read more about the obsessive-compulsive preoccupation with the efficient use of time here.

This guilt is a big-time joy killer. It removes you from your present moment that might be filled with so many amazing things that you can enjoy and wonderful people that you can laugh with. Many people attempt to eliminate this guilt by keeping themselves very busy. Being busy, however, does not always lead to excellence. Busy-ness that is driven by guilt can actually do a lot of damage to the joy that you derive from participating in your area of excellence. During my workaholic years living in Korea, I lost a lot of my joy in producing music because I had spent so much time dutifully working on musical projects that I had very little interest in. Although being productive controls this pervasive feeling of guilt, it never gets rid of it.

The way I now respond to this kind of guilt is much healthier. I now let myself feel the guilt and let the emotion take its course in and out of my system. I remind myself in my head that it is NOT my responsibility to bring excellence into this world – being born with all the right tools does not automatically sign me up for a life of duty. My faith also helps me deal with this difficult emotion. I trust that this world is in the good hands of an omnipotent God who loves to share His unrivaled excellence with the rest of the world. I think of all the imperfect people in the Bible that God partnered up with to do this. God didn’t need them to be constantly busy. It was the condition of their heart that mattered much more to Him. I then tell myself that everything will be just fine and turn my focus back onto the present moment.

Another step that really helps to lessen the intensity of this kind of guilt is putting an end to judging others negatively. Many people with OCPD fall into judging others for their “laziness.” After judging others in this way, people with OCPD grow to be very unforgiving toward themselves.

So yeah… I am going to continue to enjoy my summer! I hope all of you are enjoying whatever season it is in your part of the world :)

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Open-Minded Giftedness

Does it make any sense for Spider-Man to get upset and complain about how nobody else is fighting crime in the way that he fights crime? No. Does it make any sense for Jiro, the world’s most famous sushi chef, to get upset and complain about how his wife fails to make sushi at home in the way that he makes sushi? No. Why then do we get upset and complain when others fail to match the high standards that have been set by our own unique areas of giftedness?

When people fail to recognize one another’s unique areas of giftedness, they tend to get upset and complain when their high standards are not matched by others.

Excellence

I believe all people are gifted in at least one area in their life. Unfortunately, many people go through life never finding out what it is that they are gifted in. You then end up with people who think this way in their respective areas of giftedness:

“My standards are the standards that everyone should go by because I am right and they are wrong. I expect others to work as hard as I do to match those standards. If they fail, I get upset and complain. I quit on people easily if they keep on failing to match my standards.”

This way of thinking can cause a lot of stress, especially on relationships. Because of their multiple areas of giftedness (including orderliness, organization, analytical thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving), many people with OCPD face this problem a bit too often. This way of thinking is the number one reason why so many people with OCPD have difficult marriages, relationships, and business partnerships.

When people recognize their own unique areas of giftedness, their way of thinking changes:

“I understand that my high standards are unique to me and not shared by the majority of the population. It is not their fault that they cannot see what I see. Therefore, I do not get upset nor do I complain when my standards are not matched by others. I find delight in doing my very best to match my own standards. Since my pursuit of excellence requires only my best effort, I have no reason to quit on others.”

This way of thinking is so much healthier. If more people with OCPD were to think in this way, they would have much less stress and enjoy better relationships. Click here to read an inspiring poem that beautifully captures this healthy way of thinking.

It took me a while to discover my gift in relationships, marriage, family, and parenting. Before I knew I was gifted in this area, I used to get upset and complain to my parents about their poor parenting skills (this never went too well because, in Korean culture, younger people are expected to pretty much shut up and submit to authority). It was when I discovered my gift in this area that I realized that my parents were not so bad after all. I realized that it is just up to me to be the best son that I can be, the best future husband that I can be, and the best future father that I can be. If my parents, my future wife, or my future children cannot be the same for me, well… that is ok. I now understand that we all have “different” areas of giftedness.

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OCPD in Popular Media: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

I recently watched “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” a documentary about the world’s greatest sushi chef. Jiro operates a restaurant in Tokyo where customers must book at least a month in advance and pay ¥30,000 (around USD$370) in order to enjoy a 15-minute meal consisting of about twenty pieces of sushi.

Jiro is a man of excellence showing many OCPD traits.

According to Jiro, talent plays a very important role in the success of a chef. When a chef talks about talent, he or she is referring to the sensitivity of taste and smell, something that people are just born with. To give you a better idea of how this “talent” works, if a person with absolutely no “talent” has only two categories (“rotten” or “edible”) and the average person has five categories (“disgusting,” “tastes bad,” “tasteless,” “tastes good,” “delicious”) with which they sort their food, Jiro has hundreds of categories. Like Jiro, people with OCPD have hundreds of categories in many different areas because of their sensitivity.

Sensitivity gives people the power to catch subtle details that most people miss. In order to not miss any detail, Jiro tastes everything in his restaurant before serving his customers.

Like many people with OCPD, Jiro’s high standards come from the combination of his sensitivity and his gift for excellence. Jiro knows exactly what excellence tastes like. While most other sushi chefs buy all of their ingredients in bulk from one seafood supplier, Jiro takes the more inefficient practice of buying all of his ingredients separately from different suppliers who specialize in catching only one type of fish.

Jiro suggests that talent and high standards themselves cannot amount to success. Hard work is what is needed to turn those high standards from ideas into tangible things that others can enjoy. Jiro works extremely hard, even at the age of 85. When he goes on vacation, which he hardly does, he wishes to go right back to work. He has worked so hard his entire life that, until working with him as his apprentices, his children do not remember their father ever being around.

Like many people with OCPD, Jiro has a certain way of doing things to achieve perfection that many others would find tedious. To achieve the perfect amount of tenderness, Jiro spends up to fifty minutes just massaging his octopus. Because of his uncompromisable love for excellence, he requires everyone who works under him to follow his inflexible ways of doing things. His ways are so difficult to adopt that his apprentices must learn under him for a total of ten years before they can call themselves master sushi chefs. Their restaurant has seen workers quit the night of their first day of work because of how demanding the job is.

The documentary also shows how Jiro is a man of many routines.

Finally, the documentary examines Jiro’s survival mentality, an attitude of the mind that people with OCPD are no strangers to. While he was still so young, his father left his family and Jiro had to learn on his own how to take care of himself. Jiro treats his children with the same kind of cold, tough love because he believes that that is what makes a person strong.

I highly recommend this documentary to all those who are passionate about excellence!

I leave you with one thing to think about. Because of Jiro’s high standards, he is more likely to be disappointed with the taste of sushi that is prepared by other average sushi chefs. But does that mean other sushi chefs suck at what they do? No. Now think about an area in your life where you get disappointed frequently because of your high standards. In the same way, when other people fail to meet your high standards, it is not because they suck at what they do. Do not give others such a hard time when they fail to meet your high standards. Just be excellent yourself.

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Hunting For Halloween

Halloween is one of those times when my OCPD really acts up.

I want to join in on all the excitement of dressing up, but I want to do so in a cost efficient manner. Having had more of a practical spending style for most of my life when it comes to fashion, I always find nothing out of the ordinary in my closet to wear on this special occasion. I am, therefore, forced to look elsewhere. But I refuse to needlessly spend close to a hundred dollars at a costume store for an outfit that I will only get to wear once. Just the idea of that kind of inefficient use of money gives me anxiety. So I strategically plan and hunt and use my creativity. This year, I got to do all those things for both me and my girlfriend.

I thought it would be a good idea for my girlfriend to go as a leopard and for me to go as a safari guide with matching leopard print.

We saved hundreds of dollars going with this idea than another one because she already happened to own a very nice leopard print dress and a pair of leopard print high heels and I already had a safari hat from my travels through Africa. All she had left to buy were a pair of leopard ears and a tail.

Hunting for my outfit was pretty easy as well. I went to the thrift store and found a beige shirt for $9.60 and a pair of beige shorts for $6.00. I then went to a fabric store and bought more than enough leopard print fabric for only $2.50.

At the costume store, I bought some teeth necklace for $5.00 and a matching teeth bracelet for $3.00. I then got the perfect long socks at a huge discount of $2.50 (originally $10.00 for three pairs of socks) just because I pointed out the problem with the item (half the socks were missing – I only needed one pair anyway) and asked if I could get a discount. In total, I spent $28.60 for my entire outfit.

After getting all my materials, I then had to put everything together. I measured, cut, and sewed my leopard print fabric to my shirt and shorts with OCPD precision. Nothing could distract me because I was so focused. My attention to detail also caused me to take the extra effort to fold the ends of the fabric before sewing it on so that the edges would appear smoother.

[ my leopard print detailing on the back pocket of my shorts ]

I think I did ok for a person who does not sew much. I give credit to my OCPD :)

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