|Coach Andrea's Coaching Tip of the Week|
Brought to you by Andrea Novakowski, Master Certified Coach, Business and Personal Coaching for Corporations, Businesses and Individuals
-- Michael J. Fox
There are two phrases in business and in life that are widely thought to encourage peak performance, but are actually recipes for disaster.
The first is the ever-popular search for "best practices" and the other is the quest for "zero defects." While I understand the intention behind them, in working with real people in the real world, too often they merely trigger our fears and cause tremendous damage.
Professionals hate making mistakes, and that is a good thing! No one wants to mess up, drop the ball or fail! We hate being embarrassed!
Unfortunately, human beings are only human. We get tired, we forget, we get distracted. We have misunderstandings and sometimes (I hate to say it) we make mistakes. We "mess up."
In the quest for perfection, we kid ourselves and we waste time and energy striving for the impossible. Most of the time we are far more successful if we strive for excellence rather than perfection. And, sometimes, the situation merely calls for "good enough" and our efforts beyond that are a waste of time.
This week, I finished a biography of Howard Hughes and in summing up his life, the authors made this astonishing assessment: ". . . geniuses must, like all of us, live in the real world. Hughes never learned how to convert his knowledge to practical application. Instead, he sought a perfection THAT ASSURED FAILURE." (Emphasis added, citation below.)
Now, of course there are instances where "perfection" is the appropriate standard. These are, however, few and far between and most of our quest for "perfection" is simply inappropriate. It grows out of an exaggerated desire to be right, to be super-human, to avoid criticism or risk, and it is not how life works.
Peak performers GET THINGS DONE! High achievers look for appropriate outcomes and measure their success based on the quantity and quality of their results.
In most areas of life and business, here are my preferred standards:
1. EXCELLENCE. In work and in relationships, seek excellence. We want to produce superb results that other people admire. We want both quality and quantity, but not perfection. Mistakes are merely the price of experimentation and learning and growth. Don't fear making a mistake; fear failing to learn and move forward.
2. "Good Enough." In most activities our goal should be a performance level that is appropriate to the task at hand. Anything less than "good enough" is sloppy or careless and that is never acceptable, but anything beyond "good enough" is a waste of time.
Consider my front lawn. It is not a prize-winning lawn and no one's life or happiness or career depends on it's appearance, so "good enough" requires a few minutes with the trimmer, a half-hour with the mower, and a bit of fertilizer twice a year. Anything beyond that is time invested for some other reason.
Perfection is rarely required. Instead, strive for excellence in the important areas of life, and "good enough" in everything else. I think you'll be happier, more productive and, in the long run, far more successful.
Quote from "Empire: The Life, Legend and Madness of Howard Hughes" by Donald L. Bartlett & James B. Steel, p. 623.
Copyright (c) 2004, all rights reserved.
Dr. Philip E. Humbert, professional coach, author and popular speaker can be reached at www.philiphumbert.com.