92% is still an A
We live in a fast paced, pedal to the metal, give 110% world. Perfectionism is the norm and anything less than all you’ve got isn’t going to get it. But we know there is no way we can live like that all the time in every aspect of life. There have to be times and places when good is good enough. Let me give you an example:
I took a 300 level biology class when I was an undergrad. It was a big class. Some reports where upwards of 500 students (I didn’t know if it was really that big but we’ll go with it). The professor was teaching his own theories and was known to be a stickler for details. I went to all the lectures, watch the recordings on he posted on his website, participated in chat boards and studied like crazy. I even gave blood for extra credit. At the end of the semester I had 989 out of a possible 1000 points. You have to admit that is overkill. But the worse part, he ended up grading on a curve. Anyone with more than 560 points got an “A”. In retrospect I clearly could have spent a little more time on my social life and a little less on biology.
But how could I have known? The signs where there. I just didn’t bother to pay attention to be able to pick up on them. So how can you know when you don’t have to make yourself crazy trying to be perfect?
First – set priorities. What is most important today? Notice I said “today”. Your priorities should change. Some days your family is going to be most important. Other days it will be work. Remember to make time for the top priority to be you. If you know where you need to focus you will be able to delegate or put on hold other things. You can’t give 100% to everything every day. But you can prioritize and average out to that “A” in the long run.
Second – what are the expectations that matter? I certainly believe in the saying under promise and over deliver. However, if something is expected in two business days and you pound away in your office for 15 straight hours to get it done in “one” you’re probably over doing it. Delivering at 2:00 in the afternoon on the second day is still beating the deadline by a good margin and delivering by 5:00 is acceptable. 5:00 could be good enough.
Third – give yourself a break. I read a blog the other day that said “I can’t do something I don’t love for the rest of my life just because my Mom told me to.” So who told you everything has to be perfect all of the time? Go have a conversation with that “ghost” because they are wrong and it is stressing you out.
Finally – When the time comes that you do need to step up and give that 110%, do it! You know you have it in you and can call on it when you need it. If you are always running with the throttle wide open you won’t have anything left to give when you hit that bump in the road.
The bottom line – good is good enough when great doesn’t gain you anything. I would have gotten the same “A” in that bio class with only 561 points. The extra 428 points were useless. I couldn’t carry them over. They didn’t show up on my transcript and help me get in to grad school. I gained nothing, except being able to tell this story, by having them. Good certainly would have been good enough in that case.
Are you trying to be great everyday in every way and burning out? Do you have an example of when good was good enough? How do you know when you need to kick it into high gear and how do you balance it with the other parts of your life? We would love to hear your thoughts!
Next week: The art of real team building
Last week we talked about stopping a team on a downward spiral.