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arnoilgner


Feb 25, 2007, 7:42 PM
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Perfectionism
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The topic of my next newsletter (coming within a week) will be perfectionism. Let's start a discussion about what perfectionism means to you can why. I'll start...well...with some questions.
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Is it perfection when everything happens exactly as we want it to?
Is getting to the top of a climb perfection; not arriving there imperfection?
Is getting to the top of a climb a perfect ascent even if you did it inefficiently?
End goals are different than process goals; end results are different than processes that lead to end goals. Is there such a thing as a perfect process? If so, what would it look like?
arno


verticon


Feb 26, 2007, 3:28 AM
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Re: [arnoilgner] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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I searched for some info on the exact meaning of "perfectionism" in order to be able to discuss this topic and I found some websites which could provide additional and useful arguments:
http://www.coping.org/growth/perfect.htm
http://www.couns.uiuc.edu/brochures/perfecti.htm
and even a test to find out whether or not one is a perfectionist:
http://psychologytoday.psychtests.com/...ctionism_access.html

While most opinions place perfectionism in "the wide area" of pathology, there's a phrase in RWW which got me thinking:
"Proper use of attention, in warrior-speak, is impeccability. Impeccability, according to the dictionary, means flawlessness." So, a rock warrior should strive for flawlessness, but doing this he might become a perfectionist.

I remember moments when, while redpointing a route or doing a boulder problem, I had many attempts in a row, and each attempt was a little bit better than the previous, due to the feedback I had from it. Finally, the climb was done when the (sequence of) moves had become "perfect". At the moment it seemed that perfection was the only choice I had.
Arno also is telling stories about subtle changes making the difference. Did those subtle changes make the move perfect ? Was there another way ?

I guess there's a thin line between Impeccability and Perfectionism. Being impeccable is having perfection working for our goals, while being a perfectionist turns perfection into a goal by itself. But it's still unclear...

All of Arno's questions could mean: have you a wishing and destination-oriented behavior ?
Some of us might answer "no, of course not, I'm in the process of becoming a Rock Warrior and being that way is unacceptable" But what about the truth hidden deep inside ourselves ?

Well, my post doesn't answer those questions. In fact it rises some more questions and I hope this will make the debate more interesting.


sherrilewis


Feb 26, 2007, 9:23 AM
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Re: [arnoilgner] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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Rock + rope + partner + climbing = perfect

Could it be as simple as that?

Or is that just me?Blush


arnoilgner


Feb 26, 2007, 12:10 PM
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Re: [sherrilewis] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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perhaps it can be that simple. however, there are usually many expectations that we create that interferes with that simplicity:
rock - i expect the rock to be solid
rope - surely the rope won't break like it did at pipeworks
partner - why is he acting pissed? did i do something or is his fragile ego showing?
climbing - dammit, why am i not progressing...
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look at your example of a simple situation and assess what would cause you to label it perfect. is it perfect because there is no stress and your end goals are being met? or does "perfect" mean something else?
arno


arnoilgner


Feb 26, 2007, 12:18 PM
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Re: [verticon] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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hi verticon,
there is a huge difference between perfection and impeccability. impeccability (at least when related to use of attention) refers to how one uses attention. one uses attention impeccably if it isn't distracted from the present moment. perfection usually has expectations associated with it, or is labeled in a way that is based on our own selfish desire to reach end goals.
expectations: getting to the top of a climb without falling; getting to the top of a climb efficiently...is perfection.
selfish end goal desires: it's perfect when i'm meeting my end goals; it is imperfect when i perform poorly and don't send.
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consider viewing perfection as a process instead of an end goal. what comes to mind?
arno


dredsovrn


Feb 26, 2007, 3:08 PM
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Re: [arnoilgner] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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I don't know that I ever thought of it as seeking perfection, but I have completed and failed at climbs where I was more disappointed with my "style" than anything else. As I think about it, my concept of style is probably what you are driving at.

For example, I tried 3 pieces of gear before I found the right one. I stemmed or crimped instead of staying in the crack. I flopped over the top instead of just putting my foot up and stepping over. I fell lunging for a hold out of fear.

I guess those would be examples of what I have always thought of as bad style. I am not sure I ever thought about their importance, other than that I didn't like it.


sherrilewis


Feb 26, 2007, 3:14 PM
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arnoilgner wrote:
perhaps it can be that simple. however, there are usually many expectations that we create that interferes with that simplicity:
rock - i expect the rock to be solid
rope - surely the rope won't break like it did at pipeworks
partner - why is he acting pissed? did i do something or is his fragile ego showing?
climbing - dammit, why am i not progressing...
-
look at your example of a simple situation and assess what would cause you to label it perfect. is it perfect because there is no stress and your end goals are being met? or does "perfect" mean something else?
arno

Thanks, Arno. I'm not missing your point, but I think a case can be made for Rock+Rope+Partner+Climber=Perfect.

It's very simplicity--the combination of the essence, or absolute nature, of each of those elements--IS what causes me to label it as perfect.

When value judgments or expectations are applied, then it is no longer "perfect"(it becomes a subjective preference), even if they are "obvious" qualifications, like solid rock, new rope, safe partner.

Why? Because that broader definition opens the door for me to say the rock is solid enough but I wish it were like the granite in Squamish, or why didn't I bring my bi-pattern rope so I didn't have to waste this time finidng the middle, or why does my partner have to be so bubbly this early in the morning...etc.

Where I am going with this is that the situation, no matter how stressful, challenging, or fabulous(realistically, most climbs include a healthy dose of all of the above!), is perfect in the sense that within it is chance to experience something pure and unexpected.

If, for whatever reason, a climbing day seemed to fall short of that ideal, it would not be because its "perfectness" was absent; rather, it would be due to some personal expectation getting in the way of my recognizing and appreciating it.

So, in order to give myself plenty of perfection-perceiving practice, I climb as often as I can.

Practice makes perfect. So to speak.Wink


arnoilgner


Feb 26, 2007, 3:52 PM
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Re: [sherrilewis] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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yes, i think you've got the essence of it. when we can see all aspects that make up a situation (the comforts, beauty, stress, ugliness) then we see a perfection that goes way beyond our individualistic (what is perfect for me only) approach.
arno


arnoilgner


Feb 26, 2007, 4:02 PM
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Re: [dredsovrn] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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if you climb in "bad" style one time and "good" style another time, both can have a sense of perfection if viewed WITH the challenge the climb presents. In other words, the climb demands a certain level of skill and we possess a certain level of skill. The climb and climber interact perfectly whether we are climbing in "bad" or "good" style. With "bad" style the climb shows us we have certain skills to learn. In "good" style we have other skills to learn. The sense of perfection comes when we see how the two come together and interact. Example: we have limited endurance strength so we only make it halfway up a climb. The amount of strength we had interacted perfectly with the amount of strength the climb demanded we have. This perfect interaction allowed us to make it halfway up the climb.
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This is perfection viewed as a process that includes all parts of the situation. We tend to only consider ourselves when identifying what is perfect about an ascent. You may wonder, why is that important? Well...when we see perfection more holistically we tend to focus on learning instead of "poor me...i didn't get my expectations met" sort of behavior.
arno


climbingbetty22


Mar 12, 2007, 10:21 AM
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Re: [arnoilgner] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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"That was a gut-shaling admission, but one that I had to make. THat fear and its denial had undermined by climbing. Now I began to see hoe they had sabotaged the rest of my life: I was always striving to be the perfect counselot, climber, hiker, traveler, writer. Anything less then perfect was a failure. I felt for the first time the burdern of being onstage, madly changing from one custom and character to another, always trying to play my part perfectly in everything I did. Falling on a climbing or falling flat on my face in any endeavor, it was all the same. Falling was failing. At every level, in everything I did, it seemed I had desperately covered up the imperfect, unacceptable, vulnerable me."

That was a quote from Laura Waterman in a story I read a couple of weeks ago that reall resonated with me because I do sffer from prefectionism. Actually to be more exact, I suffer from prefectionism, complicated by a case of too-much comparing myself too others.

Despite it being 3 years since my first lead, I still *only* lead 5.6. On a good day. But even when I do complete a good lead, with excellent rock, moves, gear, etc. its bitterswet because in the end it was *only* a 5.6 and so-and-so who's only started leading this season is already leading 9+. But the reality is that when I am on lead, I am so scared out of mind of falling, of failing as it were, that at this point I can't imagine wrestlying with anything harder then a 5.6. And the cycle repeats, because as Arno so eloquently put it, I'm more focused on the end then the process.

By comparing my accomplishments to others, I miss out on the opportunity to learn from what I did "right" on the climb that let me accomplish my goal of leading it without falling.

So it seems to me that carefully examination of motivations are necessary for growth because if we climb under the weight of perfectionism, we are forced to characterize experiences as "good" or bad" instead of learning from them for what they are- opportunites for learning devoid of any moral valve.


arnoilgner


Mar 12, 2007, 10:46 AM
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Re: [climbingbetty22] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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hello climbingbetty22,
nice awareness. awareness is the beginning to moving through challenges. catch yourself when your mind creates thoughts about the end goal, comparisons, or having to be perfect. see the climb as your teacher; with something specific to teach you. there are skills to learn: endurance strength, commitment strength, movement skills, jamming skills. isn't it great that we have something to learn? how boring it would be if we knew it all already. relish your learning journey.
-
find the perfection that contains you and the climb.
arno


degaine


Mar 20, 2007, 3:03 AM
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arnoilgner wrote:
Is it perfection when everything happens exactly as we want it to?

Not a priori for me. Often times, once I’ve finished a climb (single/mutli-pitch, with or without falls, all lead or all seconding or a mix) I’ll say to myself “that went perfectly”, but not perfect in the sense that the climb matched some pre conceived plan.

arnoilgner wrote:
Is getting to the top of a climb perfection; not arriving there imperfection?
Is getting to the top of a climb a perfect ascent even if you did it inefficiently?

I can be or has been, especially when finally conquering a nemesis that has thwarted me on more than one occasion. When I overcome, there’s both a mental and physical victory, which again, a posteriori, I may consider perfection depending on the circumstances.

Although I try to be as efficient as possible, sometimes pushing my mental limits is a higher priority than physical mastery.

arnoilgner wrote:
End goals are different than process goals; end results are different than processes that lead to end goals.


The other night while climbing (in the gym, still winter where I live) a friend made a suggestion on a move that was giving me trouble. When I tried out what he suggested, something clicked, I mean a major click. Perfect. Process, end result, whatever, I often feel perfection when some sort of horizon expansion occurs, when at some point (leaving the ground, during the climb, topping out, lowering and retrying a move or two) I have that “aha!!” moment.

arnoilgner wrote:
Is there such a thing as a perfect process? If so, what would it look like?

Sure, but I think that not only is this perfect process different from one individual to the next, but it also varies from one day or one climb to the next for each individual.


vector


Mar 27, 2007, 9:20 PM
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Re: [arnoilgner] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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Hmmm, perfect climbing experiences and perfectionism are two different things for me.

Perfectionism is what holds me back. I frequently decide I am not good enough at the style or level of climbing I am doing. Until I can do something in better style, faster, smoother I keep working on it to the exclusion of trying new challenges. It is pretty counter-productive in my climbing and I try to recognize and avoid it.

Perfect climbing experiences bring two things to mind:

- Climbs where I honor my intention (to learn, to commit, to focus my attention).
- Climbing days were I am profoundly in touch with my love of climbing.

The first often leads to the second. The feeling afterwards (and during) is that glowing high where my feet float and my breath is full of sunlight. The climbing stays with you in sharp detail and fond recollection. And the beer tastes soooo good.

~Henry


_fiend_


Mar 30, 2007, 5:44 AM
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Re: [arnoilgner] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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Interesting...(as always!!).

My own personal view on perfection, within a route climbing arena.

My perfection is when I climb WELL, with a clear mind, without any inhibition, without any phantom fear, using the skills I have efficiently and confidently. In part I guess I define it by abscence of the "flaws" that often marr my climbing. With those flaws, I hesitate, I over protect, I worry about things I shouldn't, I take time to commit, I don't trust myself nor the rock. WITHOUT those flaws, I just climb upwards, assessing risk, committing to it, placing protection, working out moves, doing them - a natural process....that is perfection to me. It invariably involves getting to the top, because I do want to get to the top, and when I climb in that state, I WILL get to the top. It invariably involves enjoying the whole process too, and in particular enjoying my role in that process!!

I did this on a route recently, a slab climb I'd tried but backed off before as it's quite bold to start. I'd been doing some slab practise recently, and tried this route again. I got onto the bold bit, sorted out the holds, padded up, got to a break and protection, placed it, sorted out the next move, did it, and so on until the top. It was not the hardest I've climbed for a long time, but it was the best I've climbed for a long time!! A simple methodical procedure of upwards progress - that was perfection, or close to!

In reply to your specific questions:

In reply to:
Is it perfection when everything happens exactly as we want it to?


No... Definitely not externally (i.e. having something unexpected to deal with). Not really internally either. Wanting to climb a route without fear....but still getting scared, that does not spoil perfection IF one deals with the fear well. Or, climbing a route and not getting stressed from the pump is not any more perfect than climbing a route, getting stressed from the pump, recognising that stress, detaching oneself from it, calming down, and continuing.

Of course, if what we want is to "apply a good mental climbing state", then doing that is perfection.

In reply to:
Is getting to the top of a climb perfection; not arriving there imperfection?


I plead the 5th on this one. Although if one tries to get to the top, does one's best (including mentally), and genuinely physically cannot do it, that does not necessarily spoil perfection.

In reply to:
Is getting to the top of a climb a perfect ascent even if you did it inefficiently?


No, definitely not! See my own definition.

In reply to:
End goals are different than process goals; end results are different than processes that lead to end goals. Is there such a thing as a perfect process? If so, what would it look like?


Yes, again see my own definition.

(Recently I have tried to focus on "climbing well" rather than "climbing hard". The slab example I gave was a successful example of that.)


arnoilgner


Mar 31, 2007, 6:58 PM
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Re: [_fiend_] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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fiend,
find a way to include the climb into your idea of perfection. how does the challenge a climb presents to you meet your ability level in perfect ways? in other words, you have a specific level of skill and the route requires a specific level of skill. how do these come together perfectly?
arno


babydevil


Apr 4, 2008, 12:45 AM
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Re: [arnoilgner] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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This seems to be an old thread, but I just saw this tonight and recently experienced my 'perfect' day of climbing, so I wanted to share this. :)
-----
My 'perfect' day of climbing definitely started with myself realizing that I was climbing well and my stamina was really great that day. However, perfectionism to me is not sending every climb nor is it not having problems with any climbs, in fact, I fell several times on my 'perfect' day.

To me, it is when I am flowing with the rock. It is when I am only semi-actively thinking enough to know how to perform the next move (hand/feet positioning, balance, tension, etc), and not enough to allow external thoughts.

The most important element of my 'perfect' day was my strangely in-tuned awareness of myself. I fell on 2 climbs. On the 1st climb, I fell and despite knowing that the move was within my ability, I was not upset. I was aware of exactly whether it was my inability or my carelessness or simply the situation that resulted in me falling. On the 2nd climb, I fell many times on the same move. Normally I'd get frustrated, but after several attempts I also surprisingly admitted that the move was beyond my limit and/or I could not solve the problem right now since I was starting to repeatedly try the same failing move. Umm...I guess part of this is also letting go of my ego (?)

Now I only wish this happened more often ;)


(This post was edited by babydevil on Apr 4, 2008, 12:51 AM)


arnoilgner


Apr 7, 2008, 8:07 AM
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Re: [babydevil] Perfectionism [In reply to]
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Hi babydevil,
I think we all understand perfection differently. However, how much more perfect could an experience be than when we are 100 percent focused in the moment on what we are doing. That's when we feel most alive. Sounds like you experienced this to a large degree. So, to attain more experiences simply continue to redirect any attention distractions back to the present moment.
Regards,
Arno


rasoy


Apr 22, 2008, 9:26 PM
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Perfectionism [In reply to]
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Perfectionism

Hmmmm

I remember one day this winter Kauk says to me; "Don't climb it, just go up there."


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