Excellence is not flawlessness

Posted on August 19, 2010

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Working for Probe has made me realize that excellence is not tantamount to flawlessness. I would like to believe we had an excellent show, but it was not exactly flawless.

We define excellence not as the absence of mistakes, but as the pursuit of a noble objective with the passion and charity to carry it on.

Our last hurrah, “Ang Ating Kuwento,” which aired on ABS-CBN last July 18, provides a good example. Production people can easily point out the flaws of the show. Two of the bigger ones, or might I say the most glaring ones, were committed by yours truly. I edited the video of the eighth and last segment of the show. My segment had dead air — I unintentionally muted the audio of one of the video inserts — and it had a jump, a cut in a soundbite which I wasn’t able to “cover” with video inserts. Those were mortal sins in production which I and the persons checking my work weren’t able to preview because of a serious lack of time. What else would you call not having finished the edit when the show is almost halfway through?I am not proud of my mistakes, but I am proud of the show and the team behind it. To see excellence in this, we don’t need a magnifying glass as much as we need a wide-angle lens.

Can we be faulted for slacking off? We hardly slept from Friday to Sunday when the special aired. Editors were their own video researchers — and for a piece that almost entirely depended on file video, it was a miracle that we were able to pull it off. People who had already resigned from the team also came in to lend a hand. 

The comments we received after the show serve as the best affirmation. Some viewers appreciated the show as a glimpse of Philippine history after 1986. Other said it will make them miss us. Still, others were inspired to become good journalists, or to take risks and dream big as Probe did. That is enough. 

To be clear, mistakes should not be tolerated. But mistakes are really a part of life — and can be part even of an excellent production. In fact, as we in our lives progress more and more into excellence, we become aware of more and more imperfections. The well-revered spiritual director Fr. Thomas Green, SJ, says in his book ‘When the Well Runs Dry’: “The closer we come to the light of God, the darker our own darkness appears by contrast.”

We should not be too hard on ourselves in the never-ending quest for excellence. Fr. Green writes, “Eventually the weeds must go and the natural virtues must bloom, but the Lord seems to find delight in a garden with many weeds, provided faith, hope and love are planted there.”

“I have often thought that if I were God I would never tolerate as weedy a garden as I myself am. But then I thank the Lord that he is God and not I!” 

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