Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

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Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby anand » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:30 am

So I recently hit my 15 years and was complaining to my sponsor about the "feeling" of lack of spiritual progress - the seeming glass ceiling of spiritual progress we eventually hit. Of course, he said what most do when you bring such a thing up, "PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION."

Intuitively, this phrase just doesn't sit well with me. It sounds meek, like resigning to a life of quiet desperation. So I decided to find out where this came from. I know it resembles a quote from the book - but I CTRL+F'd "progress not perfection" and of course no results. Where this phrase comes from is this familiar passage:

Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.


"We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection" means something different than "progress not perfection" to me - I don't know, what do you think?

To me he is saying, don't be discouraged about Getting Started and Moving Forward - we assert/have experienced that Growth is all that is necessary to succeed. NOT that setting your sites high to spiritual perfection itself is something to be avoided. In other words, he's down-playing it to be humble. "We're not claiming we're perfect monks or anything, so don't worry you don't HAVE to be either." But to me, that isn't a warning/guideline to AVOID aiming perfection itself.
Hi, I'm Anand and I'm an Alcoholic. And have been since 7/14/2003. Thank you for being here.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Brock » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:44 am

We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection" means something different than "progress not perfection" to me - I don't know, what do you think?

I agree with you, ‘progress not perfection’ sounds like a dead end, you have reached as far as you will.

To me the main problem is we stop spotting the little things which are progress, we had progress we could easily see at first, now the progression is subtle. The fact that I no longer have to debate in my mind whether or not to do the right thing, because I don’t think about it I may not see this as the progress it is. And things in nature, there is a lot of progress when we see things which were there all along, but ‘see’ in a new light. I am not much of a bible reader, but this is good advise - “If you would learn more, ask the cattle, seek information from the birds of the air. The creeping things of earth will give you lessons, and the fishes of the sea will tell you all.

There is a large hill at the side of my place, a kind of tropical forest I can see while at the desk here, never really noticed it before AA, then slowly paid more attention. Now I see stuff which brings joy, like I said above, we may be making progress in ways we don’t even realize.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Jojo2 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:59 pm

anand wrote: But to me, that isn't a warning/guideline to AVOID aiming perfection itself.


Absolutely. It doesn't mean we are to be discouraged from setting the bar high.

We generally tend to set unrealistic expectations and believe that if we’re not perfect in our pursuit, we’re a failure.. . hence,

we focus on progress, not perfection.... on the now, not the outcome.
We focus on the process and the steps along the path.
We focus on small tasks and small changes.
We keep making progress and moving forward.

Bill Wilson described humility as, “the clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to be what we can be.”

Some days, we may achieve greatness, and other days, we struggle to get dressed.
As long as both days were opened and closed with prayer, and we helped another drunk, both days were perfect.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Spirit Flower » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:35 pm

There is no end to spiritual progress; so get busy with enlarging your spiritual life. (says someone with 32 years who discovered new spiritual material this past year)
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Frihed89 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:37 am

As long as a person maintains a connection with their higher power in their daily life and puts that connection into action, things will work out. The action part will reinforce that connection.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby positrac » Fri Jul 20, 2018 3:34 am

Again another awesome post and it has really churned my thoughts of life and recovery as I know it today. One point I have is am I comparing my insides with someone else's outsides? You've heard this said in AA and I know that life at times really lets me down because I get this expectation in my mind and crawl and it doesn't turn out like I expected and so it just isn't working-----> or is it? 15 years is a good amount of time and I believe over these years you've peaked and valleyed over moments of growth and eventually overcome those and became a better person if you look back!

Your progress is way different than mine and to the newcomer getting a white chip and so maybe you have way more to offer than you give yourself credit for? Being humble is good and arrogance can get us drunk and so maybe stepping back and looking at the whole dynamic could surprise you? Maybe you've read too much into this situation?

BTW congrats on 15 years as it is a milestone and keep coming back.

Thanks
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby PaigeB » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:05 pm

Progress by it's very definition is an ACTION word - a verb...
nounGRAMMAR
1. a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hear, become, happen.

verb
prəˈɡres/
1. move forward or onward in space or time.
"as the century progressed, the quality of telescopes improved"
synonyms: go, make one's way, move, move forward, go forward, proceed, advance, go on, continue, make headway, work one's way
"they progressed slowly down the road"

SO GET BUSY! I was told (at 7 years) "Do what you are doing and DO some MORE!" More meetings and maybe a sponsee! Maybe take an AA meeting into the jail or join the District or Area Public Information Committee.

E-aa is part of OIAA - Online Intergroup of AA. OIAA has both a 12 Step Committee (very busy) that answers drunks looking for help online. Their Public Info Committee answers emails that have a lesser degree of urgency.
http://aa-intergroup.org/
http://aa-intergroup.org/members_office ... ittees.php
I used to belong, but I have no idea what they are up to today! Check it out = new ACTION.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Greywolf » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:50 pm

anand wrote:So I recently hit my 15 years and was complaining to my sponsor about the "feeling" of lack of spiritual progress - the seeming glass ceiling of spiritual progress we eventually hit. Of course, he said what most do when you bring such a thing up, "PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION."

With you having 15 years perhaps I'm not as nice to you as some others. In a conversation about the "feeling" of lack of spiritual progress, what DID you think your sponsor was talking about when he said, "PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION."

It's like asking you for a glass of water if I was thirsty. I hope I wouldn't have to say " cool, potable water in a clean glass."
I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby avaneesh912 » Sat Jul 21, 2018 4:42 pm

I need to ask am I milking this statement and partaking in tasks that is unacceptable or am I realizing that I am not living up to the principles set forth my the program taking corrective measures and going forward.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Blue Moon » Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:13 pm

Growth depends on whether I'm open to the experience, and knowing what I'm supposed to do. This means doing things outside the relative safety of the halls of AA, in the real world. Some of the growth is unwelcome, eg from emotional pain. So you do need to be secure in sobriety, lest that pain makes drinking look an attractive option.

So what opportunities for growth are you engaging in?
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Greywolf » Sun Jul 22, 2018 6:22 pm

Blue Moon wrote:Growth depends on whether I'm open to the experience, and knowing what I'm supposed to do. This means doing things outside the relative safety of the halls of AA, in the real world. Some of the growth is unwelcome, eg from emotional pain. So you do need to be secure in sobriety, lest that pain makes drinking look an attractive option.

So what opportunities for growth are you engaging in?

Excellent question.

I don't look for opportunities for growth but instead look for oppornitities to make a difference. A little over 5 years ago I befriended an older man about 70 who has asberger's disease. We get together for lunch occasionally and sometimes walk (old folks exercise). I take him to all our school's home football games. He wouldn't go without me going with him. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in life. He's gaining more independence and is making friends other than me now. I didn't think of it as an opportunity for growth -- still don't really. That's about all I do to make a difference besides the 2 people I sponsor with 3 yrs sobriety each. I'll be 81 in a week or so and I know it's not much but it's satisfactory for me.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Brock » Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:39 am

Growth depends on whether I'm open to the experience, and knowing what I'm supposed to do. This means doing things outside the relative safety of the halls of AA, in the real world.


I sometimes experience things from which I can get the feeling that I have grown spiritually. There is a drugstore I go to about once each week where there's a beggar who sits on the culvert at the side, he hopes for people going in to buy him a coke and a snack, I have been doing this for a few years. Where I see the growth, is that at first I would say to the cashier ‘this is for the man outside,’ and I would stand by my car and have him come over, where I proudly handed over the bag, sub concisely thinking what a good man I am, all these other folks in the car park can see that as well, and my ego was happy with that approach.

But as I gained in understanding, I saw where ego was leading me astray, and over time stopped saying anything to the cashier, and started walking over to the beggar and giving him the bag in a way that nobody else might notice. It’s far more rewarding not to let others see our good deeds, and even writing about them here may have a little ego attached, but when we can do the right thing in all situations without once ‘patting ourselves on the back,’ there is little doubt we are growing spiritually.

The ego is the enemy of spirituality.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Layne » Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:51 am

So what opportunities for growth are you engaging in?
Increasing and expanding my mindfulness.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby PaigeB » Mon Jul 23, 2018 12:17 pm

Layne wrote:
So what opportunities for growth are you engaging in?
Increasing and expanding my mindfulness.

Page 84:
We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime.

Understanding and Effectiveness are both qualities that are outward facing... aka "not all about me" anymore.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: Progress Not Perfection (ugh) - a misquote?

Postby Db1105 » Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:19 pm

I love that saying. I came into recovery wanting 5 years of sobriety in 5 minutes. It helped to teach me about patience, realistic expectations, and to remember to stop and smell the flowers on the road to recovery.
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