I do see myself as a perfectionist, I’ve always seen that as a good thing. Constantly having targets that I work hard at hitting in both personal and work life, but I’ve never believed I can be truly perfect because there’s always the next thing to improve. So this makes me wonder if a hardened mindset like this is really good for me and those around me?!
The mindset basically means my focus is constantly looking for ways to change, sometimes even setting the bar too high that it’s not achievable. It took me a while to realize but looking back I can see I was never satisfied and seldom gave myself the rest that we all need. What I also noticed is this can mean that I would rarely appreciate what is around me and recognize achievements already made. This is not just important but it’s vital! Not only for me but for the teams and people I lead.
Of course having targets is good, they keep you motivated and focused on a goal but so is taking time to celebrate what has gone well. We, as human beings, need downtime to re-energize ourselves and recognize what we’ve achieved. As managers, it’s essential we do this at the team level and with individuals. Allow time to enjoy the moments without immediately looking for things that can be improved. This downtime can prove invaluable because it can allow us to think of the bigger picture, may even cause a rethink in direction for a project or personal goal.
Setting targets is also important but we have to be careful not to set targets that are out of reach – how demoralizing is it to work on something where the goal will not be met?! Stretch targets are popular too, they can work as long as the goal is still possible. You will be very hard pushed to motivate anyone, even for the simple tasks, if goals are unrealistic. So the good intentions to set goals to motivate the team will back fire! There needs to be agreement from the teams or individuals that the goals are realistic. This may mean some haggling with the team, especially if there are rewards involved, but the others need to be part of any decision when commitments are made.
Another thing I’ve learnt is that something I thought was perfection could turn out to be not so perfect the next month. We live in a world where things are constantly changing, we are discovering new techniques all the time. If our heads are down marching on to reach the next level of perfection we could be missing vital information that could change our path. Can you relate to this? Lifting our heads to be receptive to what’s around us needs to be done regularly. Hurrying along only to realize you could have changed to a better path weeks/months before is not a motivating place to be.
So now I’m a recovering perfectionist! I see perfection really is elusive and not something I should be aiming for, I’ve realized that stressing over something which has no real value is not good for anyone on the long run. Making progress is far more important, allowing time to regularly evaluate status and direction can give confidence to yourself and the team that the future path is the correct one, but a change could be possible. Identifying continuous improvements means reflecting on successes while evolving to be stronger. This thinking has helped me with personal goals as well as within teams; having everyone involved with the complete process encourages team building and trust. Don’t let perfection get in the way of making progress!