December 17

A leader once shared with me a tenet that he teaches his team:

“We value excellence, not perfection.”

He said that this leadership tenet has been important to his team, because many who are drawn into his field tend to skew toward the perfectionist side of the spectrum. They want everything to be exactly right, and might work for hours extra to make it so. The problem is that all of those extra hours might yield just a small amount more quality, but create a lot more pain and frustration for the team. So, he will tell them “It’s fine. It’s already excellent.”

This is an important point for all of us who make things. Is there any place where you are striving for perfection instead of chasing after excellence? All of those extra hours spent trying to squeeze just a little more value out of the project could be better allocated against something new.

Here are a few signs you’re succumbing to perfectionism:

If a project keeps you awake at night, even once it’s finished.

If you keep others waiting even after your work has been approved by your manager.

If you start over again, and again, and again until you get something exactly right.

Chase excellence with your work, not perfection.

Question: Is there any place where you are trying to be perfect?

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