Persistence not Perfection

I think we all need to get over ourselves and the desire, need, and pursuit of perfection.  It’s really just a cop-out and a reason to not move or an excuse for not ‘getting it right’.  If we leave no room for spontaneity, creativity, and fluidity in our lives, we can lead pretty boring lives.  The pursuit of perfection often leaves us feeling depleted and deflated.   It’s just a never ending cycle of ‘raising the bar’.

Many people never start their own business, go for that promotion, write that book, or accomplish whatever their dream is because of their fear of failure or ridicule.  So what if you don’t get it right the first time?  Most successful CEOs and famous business people failed numerous times before they tasted success.  I once heard Ted Turner had 17 failed businesses before his first successful one!  Bill Gates and Steve Jobs never finished college.  Successful baseball players are successful at getting on base only 30% of the time.  Can you imagine failing 70% of the time in your job or life?

There is Honor in Effort

Perfectionism can simply be a rationale for not trying and not being engaged.  Many of the leaders I work with say some of their most fulfilling times in their life was ‘getting there’.  They speak with delight of having little money in their pocket but a huge dream in their heart that propelled them to achieve great things.

You’ve heard it said many times – the tragedy is not in falling down but in not getting up.  We all fall, we all misspeak, we all eat too much or the ‘wrong foods’.  So what?  The joy is the journey, not the destination.   Enjoy the trip and every now and then don’t take a map or use your GPS.

Playing it Safe is Playing Small

A life with few failures is typically a pretty boring and small life.  You’ve heard the story about fish being (are fish a who/person?) placed in an aquarium with a glass in it and they learned to swim in that space.  When the glass was removed they continued to swim in that smaller space – never realizing there was twice the space if they simply would free themselves from their self-imposed boundaries.

How many of us do that?  Travel the same way to work, eat at the same restaurants, lead in the same ways we led 10 years ago.  It is true that nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Persistence is Critical

We’ve all heard ‘mile by mile it takes a while; inch by inch it’s a cinch’.   We have such an incessant need for speed that we miss the power and the grace of simply moving forward at a reasonable pace.  Research consistently shows that measured progress is better than rapid change with little or no thought.

And not every effort we make has to accomplish something.   There is value in noticing the butterfly on the hibiscus, or watching the hummingbird delight in the delicious nectar of salvia.   Supporting an employee who is a first time mother endears you to her in a way that no performance review ever can.

Certainly there are times that speed is of the essence and is important.  But most of us are caught up in the frenetic, breakneck speed race against the clock that impedes our progress rather than accelerates it.   Slow down and trust that when you let go there is flow.   Put the oars in the boat and let the stream carry you.  Have a safe, well equipped boat, take what you need for the trip – and enjoy the ride downstream.

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