Going for Goldilocks
I've never really been an A+ student. Growing up, good grades had come pretty easy until I found myself in the college prep classes, and something about focusing every bit of my mental energy into achieving perfect marks just seemed.... well, boring. Even when I was in college, or thereabouts, I struggled against the notion of the "straight A" mindset. And I don't mean in school, I mean in life. Perfect house, perfect life, perfect hair, perfect car, blah blah blah. I just didn't buy it then and I don't buy it now. But this is not to say that I embraced a slacker mindset. I've always favored the industrious life over the dreamer's infinity, and I like to have something to show for my efforts. I like to produce, you know?
I finally rationalized this into what I called my "B+ Target" - specifically assessing what I believed I was capable of achieving versus what I believe I am achieving, in a comparative value of actual/potential. Am I doing all that I am capable of doing? Well, no, of course not. No one ever manages that - because as soon as you reach your goal, well, that just means you're at least that capable. There's still more to accomplish beyond that.
At the same time, I don't want to be chasing my potential like a mirage on the horizon. So I decided to maintain a B+ average in my life. Doing great - better than just the average level of expectation, but still with room to grow. And I considered A-, but that minus just makes it feel.... I don't know, pessimistic, I guess.
In truth, what the B+ Target is is little more than a personal choice to manage my expectations and my perception of myself. It's a lesson in personal forgiveness but also in pushing my ambition and drive to succeed. Do better than I think I can, but understand if it doesn't always result in sheer perfection.
That sense of managing my expectations and perceptions has followed me on through my publishing career, too - I find that my best level of satisfaction lies somewhere between the far extremes. I like a bit of entropy in my constancy, a balance of order against the backdrop of my chaos. I don't want it too hot or too cold, I want it just right.
It's running downhill, where you're just keeping your legs under you, one step at a time. And yet....from time to time, coming to a stop long enough to catch your breath, check your compass and then, when you're ready, launching again into the unknown.
Well, there you go. A little insight into my personal madness. How do you like your world-porridge? Too hot? Too cold? Just right?