Progress, Not Perfection

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My daughter is on a new softball team this year. She had been with a core group of players and the same coach since starting her softball career, but was selected to be part of a new team this season.

On her old team, her position as catcher was solid. She loved the position, the coaches loved how she could throw the ball to second to get an out, and she learned the skills and strategies of knowing how to make smart plays. 

On her new team, there are a couple of girls who are solid catchers. They are older, stronger and highly skilled in the position. The opportunities for her to catch seem to be limited.

What the team needs are additional skilled pitchers. While my daughter has a strong, solid arm, pitching is not her specialty. She struggles to get the ball in the strike zone consistently. She doesn't want to be a pitcher, but you will likely find her on the mound at some point relieving other talented pitchers.

As the parent, watching her pitch can be frustrating because I know it's not her favorite position and I know she's highly talented in other spots on the field. Yet, watching her pitch is inspiring because it's reminding me that progress is better than perfection.

She is making progress in getting the ball over the plate and in making accurate pitches. She is giving it her all even when she's walking more players than striking them out. She's being a team player, taking on whatever role the coach asks of her without attitude or grief. Most importantly, she's showing up, doing the work, and making progress in her own way.

As adults, it can be difficult to willingly put ourselves into situations where we might not perform at our highest level. We might struggle or strike out in our own way. We may even avoid doing things because we know we won't succeed, at least not at first. We let our thoughts about perfection rule and we may choose not to show up, do the work, and make progress in our own way.

Take this photo for example. This photo was shot through a chain-link fence which has smaller spacing than most chain-link fences. Unfortunately there is nowhere you can go at this particular field without having to shoot through ugly, tiny-spaced chain-link fence. I get frustrated about taking photos at this field and sometimes I don't even bother taking my camera out. In this shot, getting focus to stay on my daughter through the fence while she's moving and keeping her framed perfectly in the center space of the batter was just a little challenging. Despite the challenge, I'm going to learn from my daughter to keep showing up, doing the work, and making progress in my own way. Whatever that looks like for you, I hope you'll do the same.