“Nine Things Successful People Won’t Do.”
I recently came across this article on LinkedIn, and right away I thought it was exactly the type of article my former editor would’ve loved. It had a catchy title that no doubt has resulted in thousands of clicks (one of them courtesy of me), and the content is neatly divided into points.
But while it wasn’t lacking in style, it fell short in substance — something that, sadly, some editors aren’t too concerned with, as long as site traffic is high. There were some points I agreed with; for example, the article stated that successful people don’t dwell on problems and aren’t afraid to say no. But there was one point that had me scratching my head. Top performers, according to the author, “won’t prioritize perfection.
“Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible,” writes Travis Bradberry, PhD. “When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.”
Huh?! I actually read it twice, thinking I may have missed something. You see, the same author had written a piece earlier this month on stress management that actually inspired a blog I recently wrote. But this one was what my nieces would call a “fail.” I agree that demanding perfection in every aspect of life is completely unrealistic, but shouldn’t we at least aim for it? Isn’t that what successful people do?
I recently spoke with a CIO who talked about the tangled maze that is the vendor selection process. The amount of time spent pouring over fine print, going back and forth with lawyers, and trying to appease the board is mind-boggling, but it’s what has to be done to make sure the right system is chosen. He wanted to select the best possible solution for his team, for the physicians, and for the patients. He was aiming for perfection.
Now of course he knows that there are going to be hiccups along the way, but that’s precisely why he sets such lofty goals. That, to me, is what successful people do.
I’m pretty sure Peyton Manning knows full well that he’s going to throw interceptions and that some of his passes will be dropped, but he still aims to complete a pass every time. He sets perfection as a target, and it’s worked out pretty well for him.
I want my team’s quarterback to set high standards. I want the people who design my car and build my house to set high standards. And I want the leaders of my local hospital to set high standards — in fact, I demand it. I know that I won’t always have the perfect hospital experience, and there is no such thing as a perfect game in football, but isn’t that the goal?