Monday, November 17, 2008

Earl Flormata - Perfection is the lowest standard

Perfection is the lowest standard.
A bold thing to say - but in hindsight, how many things have you started, or even thought about starting, but never got off the ground because of your fear that it wasn't good enough?

The first time I saw this quote was during an Leader Global Consulting marketing bootcamp that I attended hosted by Odin Zavier and Thane Lanz.

Rod Sherwin talks about it in his ezine article found here.

If we hold perfection in too high a regard we will not start something for fear of not doing it perfectly. Can you relate to this? This is why perfection is the lowest standard. Doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing.

While we should always strive to do something to a high standard in starting out we might accept what G. K. Chesterton said "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly" -- at first!

Paul J Morris has his two cents in the flying solo website.

Standards are undoubtedly great to have for good business performance. They provide us with guidance and something to aspire to. But setting too high standards can work against us, counter intuitive as this may seem.

Now that I've taken a look around - and have been asked more than once what the next step is to improving one's business and taking it to the next level, the more I see people striving for perfection, the more I see people failing. This is what causes me to believe that the quote for what it's worth is absolutely true.

So what now? Where do we go from here, and are we doomed to live a successful life of mediocrity? I don't believe that getting things done for the sake of getting things done is the right and proper approach either. One of the people that I've assigned to create a coaching course around the basics of finances has hit the nail on the end with the very first day of her training material. Find out the values that you wish to preserve, protect and honour and ensure that all of your actions brings meaning towards your values.

As long as the movement is headed in the right direction - even a little askew (but not a complete tangent or opposite) it's a positive thing. Movement and action are the steps to success. You can always make things better along the way.

A student during our lesson countered that in her field of profession - nursing - that perfection was a required trait, and that mistakes meant furthering the injury, or even worse: the death of a patient. My retort now that I've thought about it is if that's the case, would you REALLY spend time adjusting the crooked bandage while your patient should be loaded into a life saving ambulance dash to the hospital? Or is it acceptable that the bleeding has indeed stopped to an acceptable level, and it's now time to move onto the next phase? Besides, the bandage can always be readjusted along the way. It's the values and progress that are much more valuable to the outcome than the pursuit of perfection in all matters great and small.

My kung fu instructor: Adam Chan teaches his students that blocking is an unnecessary skill. Proper attacks lead to the blocking of countermeasures that would stop you from reaching your objectives in the first place. Of course this doesn't mean that your flower hand is useless, but understand that blocking means that you must be 5 times faster than your opponent for your counterattacks to land well.

From cadets the idea from my training is the concept of fire and motion. One person shoots while the rest move up in their positions on the battlefield occupying precious real estate from the enemy.

How do we learn if we do not falter or fail? How do we succeed if analysis paralysis has taken over and we are too fearful of the first or even next steps? I encourage all of you that read this to take action sooner rather than later, but never forget the values that you believe in. Failing to plan is never the right option - but seeking the elusive standard of perfection is worse than never having even started at all.

Take the first step. It's a doozy but it's a law of physics that it's easier to keep a body in motion that's already in motion, than to drop kick a perfectionist off his high horse... or at least something to that effect.

Thanks for reading,
Earl Flormata

1 comment: said...

An idea that helps you make progress without getting hung up on perfection is the solutions-focused approach. Solutions-focus is about defining what you want, noticing what works, and making small incremental improvements. This is actually much simpler and direct then spending time analyzing what's not working and why you can't do something.