Believe it or not, perfection and success are mutually exclusive. Here’s why.
We live in a world where perfection is highly desirable and imperfection could get you fired or sued. No wonder we often spend so much time chasing perfection; it has become the prevailing mindset.
Stop for a moment and consider why perfection might actually be hurting your business.
1. Perfection is impossible.
I struggled with perfection for years. Growing up, I always wanted the 4.0 grade point average or 100 percent on the test. Anything less was acceptable but NOT ideal. Sure there were times I was (technically speaking) perfect but they were few and far between. Chasing perfection only resulted in me beating myself up when I missed the mark. Rather than inspiring myself to pursue excellence I was wearing myself out. All for something that would never happen.
2. Learning is less likely to occur.
Striving for perfection establishes the wrong mindset. It obviates the need to learn and grow. Our businesses stagnate much more quickly as a result because perfection is the antithesis of learning. When I strove for perfection the quality of what I did learn was significantly reduced.
3. We set ourselves and the team up for failure.
Someone always makes a mistake, always. It might be a two dollar mistake or it could be a two million dollar mistake, but mistakes are made, frequently. It is vitally important we set our teams up for success. Manageable goals lead towards the accomplishment of huge milestones.
4. Unrealistic expectations.
Setting unrealistic expectations for myself only caused me more pain. The pain of disappointment was more intense because I felt like a loser. Someone who set a goal and failed to achieve it. As opposed to someone who dared to dream and made pursuing their goals a priority.
As I have grown older, perfection has become increasingly more elusive. Each time I became a little more frustrated. I chastised myself for missing the mark. As time went on I had myself convinced that I lacked the necessary discipline to succeed. Deep down I wondered if I could ever achieve perfection again. All I wanted to do was get it right one more time.
6. Not Failing vs. Succeeding
After 13 years serving in the Army, perfection has been etched into my brain. Deep down I was fighting the urge for perfection but my military training insisted upon attention to detail (AKA perfection.) I was 35 years old before I truly understood perfection and success were mutually exclusive. Perfection derives from our need to avoid failure and pain. Success is spurred by our ability to learn from failure and grow stronger.
7. We don’t celebrate the small victories.
Until recently I never celebrated small victories. In 2013, my wife and I saved over 20,000 dollars within a few months. Rather than celebrate this truly amazing feat I focused on the mistakes I made. This robbed me and my wife of some well-deserved pats on the back. Since I was focused on perfection what I did wrong was more important.
8. No momentum.
Momentum requires forward action. Perfection, however, is the antithesis of momentum. When I wanted to start my own business, it was fear of imperfection that delayed me. Rather than developing a plan and executing it, I focused on mistakes in advance.
9. We will never satisfy everyone but we can always satisfy ourselves.
If you commit to a life of learning and growth, you are more likely to experience fulfillment. We are able to determine what worked and didn’t work and do better the next time.
10. Life is too short.
Why don’t we commit to stop weighting ourselves down under the burden of unrealistic expectations. Instead, let’s commit to pursuing happiness on our terms on our timeline. Life is too short to live to the beat of someone else’s drum. We only get one chance at life! Why mess it up by trying to be perfect.
Has perfection been holding you back? Are you ready to stop being perfect and start learning?