When we were growing up and set out to accomplish anything, it was fairly common to receive two types of feedback from our teachers and other adults.
Either what you did was “Perfect” or the other feedback was “Nice Try”
Sometimes that’s all we got.
Do you see the problem that stems from these two extremes?
One of them says- you’ve accomplished your goal to perfection, everything is exactly as it should be, don’t change a thing.
The other says- well at least you gave it your best shot, but really you didn’t quite cut it today so in all honesty you failed.
Is it any wonder why so many of us could be categorized you as “recovering Perfectionists?”
In reality neither of the two feedback scenarios was very accurate. Perfection is a mythical state that is based on perception and opinion. The very definition of perfection is “faultless or free of any flaws” yet we all know that if we set out to find flaws in anything, we can most certainly find them.
When asked about his work in painting the Sistine Chapel Michelangelo simply stated, “I’m not a painter, I’m a sculptor” Clearly stating that at least in his mind, one the most famous works of art to ever to grace the earth “probably isn’t all that good”
On the other side, when we give something out best attempt and fall short of the mark, that shouldn’t be considered failure. The lessons learned in putting forth our best effort and not accomplishing our goals is the secret sauce to achieving at the highest levels. Yet for many, the mere idea of not hitting the mark, not accomplishing the goal, and not being perfect, is absolutely terrifying.
Perfect then, is the enemy of productivity and can stop you from achieving at your highest level. In fact, the quest for perfection can actually stop you before you even get started.
None of us are paid for perfection, we are paid for results. Unfortunately for those perfectionists out there, results can sometimes be a bit messy, and not go at all how you planned for them.
To start accomplishing more in your business and in your life, get comfortable in the gray area. This is that place that exists somewhere between the perfect outcome and not doing anything.
You see, in order to get a new outcome, you must actually do something new. Many times that just means getting started.
Think about how many times you’ve thought about doing something, accomplishing something or being something, yet before you even got started you talked yourself out of it. You probably sabotaged the outcome by picking apart all the reasons why you “couldn’t” accomplish the goal. You may have even started identifying all your own personal flaws, or worse yet the flaws of others around you to justify your lack of even getting started.
Then once you finally muster up the courage to actually do something and fall short of the perfect outcome, you prove your doubts and fears to be correct. The cycle is complete, and you hear the words “Nice try” reminding you of all the other times that you attempted something and didn’t get the results you were looking for. Compound this over 20, 30, 40 years and it’s any wonder that we ever accomplish anything let alone start something new.
Striving for perfection is a grand vision, and it’s always a good idea to look for ways improve on what you’ve accomplished. But if perfection is the only outcome, then the outcome will most certainly elude you. It’s better to get up there and take your “at bats”- Think about it like a professional baseball player- if they fail in their quest to get a base hit 70% of the time, they are a lock to be in the Hall of Fame. When you view it from this lens, failure is a requirement for success, and resilience to being “imperfect” is the only way to achieve your goals.
There is a saying that goes- Good is the enemy of Great. I would challenge that and say, “Being comfortable with Good- is enemy of Great.” Good is the prelude to great as long as you can avoid the perfection trap. In order to be great at anything, you probably have to good at it first. Then it’s about the drive to learn and grow, not settling for good, and looking for ways to be great.
It’s quite a balancing act if you think about it. How much do we push ourselves, when can we leave well enough alone. When is our quest for the perfect outcome actually hurting us and when is it helping? If you have the “perfect” answer for these questions, let me know and we will publish the book together. Until that time comes, let’s get comfortable with imperfection.
This week ask yourself:
Where are you allowing the need for perfection to slow you down or stop you altogether?
What areas in your business and in your life can you start getting comfortable in the gray areas?
How much more productive will you be when you start living by the idea that you are not paid for perfection, you are paid for results?
How is your perfectionist mentality holding you back?
Thoughts for the week:
There is no beauty without some slight imperfection- James Salter
Perfection is boring, getting better is where all the fun is. -Dragos Roua
You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. –Sam Keen
Strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection- Kim Collins
Perfection is God’s work, we are human. -Unknown
You are not paid for perfection, you are paid for results- Coach Tim
Looking forward to our next connection