I thought an interesting way to start my new blog would be to share with you the personal mantra I’ve adopted recently….”Progress Not Perfection”. It’s a simple phrase, but the power in these words has helped me to change some of my “hard wiring” for the better. Let me explain.
I think many of you may be able to relate to one of my personal challenges, perfectionism. I resisted owning this particular trait for many years, but I eventually had to admit, it’s accurate. For good or for bad, it was a driving force in how I approached many things. On the bright side, I developed a good reputation for providing an exceptional work product. On the downside, I often sacrificed many hours of personal time to make sure a project met my high standards before I could turn it in and move on. Sometimes my perfectionism would keep me from making decisions or taking a risk, as I was forever searching for that elusive “perfect moment” to arrive so I could move forward.
To be completely honest, I’ve wanted to start a blog for some time now. This site was in fact created in July, but my need for having everything in place before I launched kept me from writing my first post. Did I choose the right title? Should I have hosted it myself? Should I write a number of posts ahead of time just to get started? Pondering questions like these kept me in the starting gate and sapped my energy.
So now when I find that I am getting too caught up in my head and sweating the details a little too much, I say to myself, “progress Kathy…not perfection.” It is my reminder that sometimes I just need to take action before I feel totally ready, and being 70-90% prepared in many cases is good enough to take the first step.
Now before you get all excited, I agree there are times when we want a serious perfectionist in our midst. I think it would be ok with me if the guy taking out my appendix checked two or three times to make sure he didn’t leave any sponges behind before stitching me up! But for most of us, it’s not a life that hangs in the balance, just an overwhelming need to feel we are doing things right.
As leaders, you will never have all of the information you need to make a perfect decision, but there is a time to gather information and a time to take action. The best leaders are able to weigh the risks and can sense when the time has arrived to move forward, even if they don’t feel 100% confident at the time.
And in those moments when you are pretty sure you should do something, but you just wish you could be more sure that what you are doing is right, ask yourself, “is progress here better than perfection?” I think you will find that most of the time your best effort in that moment will serve you better in the long run than waiting in perpetuity for the “perfect time” to take action.
If you struggle with moving forward sometimes and have a strategy that works well for you, I’d love to hear from you.
Your comments are appreciated and please share this post if you found it helpful to you.