I strive to bring new ideas and insights to my Wednesday Wisdom blogs, but today, I’m trotting out something tried and true: Progress is better than perfection. Way, better! Let me tell you why.
I’m sure that, like me, you don’t think of yourself as a perfectionist, and you probably don’t think that you expect perfectionism of others. But I challenge you to think back to a time when you didn’t do something or try something because you thought you weren’t good enough. Remember the resume you never sent because you weren’t a perfect fit for the job? Remember the influential industry leader that you never met because you didn’t have the perfect introduction? Do I need to go on?
Perfectionism is really about fear; fear of failing, of being wrong, of being judged, of so, so, so many things. What I would like you to remember is that perfect is unattainable, but self-improvement despite initial failure is progress.
Part of the coaching process is encouraging clients to try new things, like using different messaging to motivate their team, or engaging with a colleague or a customer in a different way. And sometimes, in the process of trying something new, clients realize that what they thought would work doesn’t. But just because they didn’t find the perfect method the first time, doesn’t mean they failed. The most effective among us are those that repeatedly face their fears, make mistakes, take note of those mistakes, and make incremental progress toward their final goal.
Want a quick and easy way to tell if you are focusing too much on perfectionism and not enough on self-improvement and progress? Ask yourself this question: When was the last time you did something for the first time?