Working Around Limitations

Yesterday, on NESN, John Farrell, the Red Sox pitching coach, said something that’s resonating with me. He said something about working around pitchers’ limitations. I don’t remember his exact words, because it’s not really the specific words that are having an impact. It’s more the way he talked about limitations, as if every pitcher has them and, pitcher to pitcher, the important thing is to have a plan to minimize those limitations as best as possible.

For a recovering perfectionist, this is huge, the idea that limitations aren’t something you struggle to eradicate, but something you work around and develop plans to minimize. I think I’ve come at this idea before from another direction, the idea that I need to stay away from writing stories based on my weaknesses, but somehow it’s different.

Maybe it’s that Farrell is working with pitchers who are among the best in baseball. If these guys have limitations and it’s no big deal, it’s just something you take into account, then maybe my limitations are no big deal. Maybe they’re just something I have to take into account when approaching my work.

In other words, you don’t have to be perfect to be good, or even excellent.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. slgreatsuccess
    Aug 03, 2009 @ 21:00:48

    If you are perfect, there is no room for improvement!

    Reply

  2. katycooper
    Aug 05, 2009 @ 19:20:49

    Sadly, my perfectionism isn’t interested in improvement, just perfection….

    Reply

  3. slgreatsuccess
    Aug 05, 2009 @ 19:59:33

    A wise sage once told me excellence is easier to reach. With perfectionism, just when you think you are almost there, you never quite reach it because there is no such thing as perfect in this world. I have decided to listen to the wise sage and prove my EXCELLENCE! After all, we are human!

    Reply

  4. katycooper
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 08:00:36

    I’m also exceedingly fond of Elizabeth Bear’s “Fail better.” As I understand it, in some way, on some level, every piece of art fails. All we can do as artists — and this is something I think we’re obliged to do — is to try to fail better every time. Because I’m a perfectionist, this doesn’t mean I’ll give my work less than my best; it just tells me that it’s okay if it’s not perfect.

    Reply

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