Is seeking perfection stifling your growth?
Aiming for perfection is always a good thing, for most people this is a driver to their success and a catalyst to achieve beyond their potential. As a Leader, setting the bar high above ‘good enough’ is what separates Good teams from Great teams. But, when is seeking perfection stunting your opportunities to stretch yourself into the unknown, to learn more than what you already know, and may even be stifling your career growth? Worse still, when are your high standards of perfection (and controlling nature to get there) restricting the development and growth of others around you?
Unlike some life impacting situations, when it comes to leaders seeking perfection it is your own personal high standards that motivate and engage your teams to achieve great things – i.e. the aspirational ‘carrot’. But when is too high so high it is not real and/or achievable? This in turn only creates disappointment (and the feelings of ‘I am not good enough or smart enough’), stress and frustration when perfection isn’t met, or holds you back from seeking that next career opportunity because you are waiting for everything to be ‘just right’!
While the expression ‘Fail Forward’ may be outdated, it still accurately captures a culture that embraces the not-so-perfect, learn from mistakes, and celebrate small wins. Now throw in the desire for absolute perfection……………you have just smothered exploration and innovation, or if leading people, you have become the controlling micro-manager, sucking the energy and fun out of work. Congratulations, you have successfully demotivated and disengaged your team!
So, when you or your team are tasked to achieve greatness, ask yourself:
What is the perfect outcome, and is ‘good enough’ just as great?
How is your perfection getting in the way of action and/or innovation, for you & others?
How many times have you put on hold that next career opportunity because you are striving for perfection in your current role (and hoping someone will notice)?
This is not about dropping your high standards or turning a blind eye to low/under performance, but it is a good reminder to accept that not everything is going to be glowingly perfect all the time. In fact, ‘Perfection rarely begets perfection, only disappointment’.
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