We receive conflicting signals about perfection. As Winston Churchill once said, “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.” Churchill knew as well as anyone about the difficulties of leadership, how tough decisions are often made using imperfect information.
We may strive to be the perfect leader, but often the very act of striving for perfection is the biggest inhibitor to effective leadership and motivation.
Too many times we wait for perfect conditions before we act, or when we sense the outcome will be less than perfect, we shrink from the challenge. However, when you consider what enables us to grow and develop, it comes from the efforts undertaken to achieve an outcome, not from the outcome itself. Therefore, perfection is less of an ideal and more of a roadblock.
The French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix once said, “The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.” How many times do we fall into the category of the artist described by Delacroix?
If we want to motivate and lead our teams, we have to be willing to take action after using the best information available, which means we have to be willing to make mistakes. Our teams can often overcome our mistakes much easier than our procrastination and inaction.
A Chinese Proverb states the following, “Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.” We would benefit by considering how many things we have left undone because we’ve allowed perfection to get in our way.