I get the opportunity to meet a lot of high school and college students in my work through Rotary. At a recent event, the discussion about academics and grades came up. One of the students – a college aged young man – was unhappy about receiving a B+ in a class that dropped his GPA in the class to a 3.97 out of 4.0. In other words, his work for over a full year in this class is nearly flawless; yet he was unsatisfied.
Perfectionism is not a virtue in academics (regardless of what I hear some parents claim) or in business. In fact, it’s a dangerous state of mind. The desire to be perfect – without flaw – will stunt growth and mask talent. Business and life is about success, not perfection. By seeking perfection, the individual misses the point. They focus on the negative rather than on incredible success.
For my young friend, he was overly critical of a small mistake (and is often the case, blame is heaped on a teacher or another person), rather than enjoying the larger victory. CEOs and entrepreneurs can fall into the desire to be perfect in language, product, service, and project work. In doing so, it creates an excessive amount of pressure on everyone in the organization from the top person to the newest employee. It leads to errors and mistakes that normally wouldn’t happen, and increased stress and anxiety. The pursuit of success is much easier than the pursuit of perfection.
Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes better. And if you consistently focus on better, then you, your company, and your clients will be improved and happier.
Quote of the Day:
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
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