It is safe to assume we want to lead with excellence. This is why we bother to study and inform ourselves with leadership books, courses, conferences, blogs, etc. This is why people spend so much money on coaching, consulting, and other professional services. However, in our pursuit of the best, it is easy to get caught in the trap of perfectionism.
EXCELLENCE VS. PERFECTION
Some of us (myself included) are natural perfectionists, making this a more pressing issue. But excellence and perfection are not the same, and our pursuit of each looks different and produces very different results. Consider the following five ways to change a "perfectionist mentality" to pursuing excellence.
Do Your Best. The search for perfection sets unrealistic expectations, while the pursuit of excellence focuses on doing your best.
Focus on the Process. The search for perfection focuses on results, specifically the perfect results. The pursuit of excellence focuses on processes. As the word implies, results come as the result of doing things with excellence and dedication.
Grow. The search for perfection is frustrating because it is unreachable. On the other hand, the pursuit of excellence is empowering because it stretches and challenges us.
Learn From Your Mistakes. Too much emphasis on doing things perfectly leads to mistakes. The pursuit of excellence leverages mistakes for greater achievement.
Welcome Challenge. The search for perfection is limiting because perfectionists confine themselves to what they can do well. The pursuit of excellence welcomes challenges and the unknown.
Ironically, the only way to come closer to some ideal of perfection is to take our eyes off it and focus on doing things with excellence. As imperfect humans, we know absolute perfection is unreachable. Excellence, on the other hand, is perfectly within our reach if we focus and put in the work. The apostle Paul encouraged his friends in Philippi to pursue excellence with these words,
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Philippians 4:8