Weekly Thought – October 27, 2015
Fred was the master of duct tape . The house and garage bore witness to his creativity and “temporary fixes.” He knew, however, when to focus on a problem to a permanent solution. His ability to prioritize enabled him to accomplish much.
As you consider your year-end giving, would you think about BWF Project and the Breakfast With Fred Leadership Institute? We received a financial gift with the following note: “We always look forward to Tuesdays because that means Breakfast With Fred.” We so appreciate your prayers, notes, and support.
Paralysis of Perfection
Perfectionism does not work well in the imperfect realm of human organization. Any leader who insists on a goal his people cannot attain is foolish. The true perfectionist has a hard time seeing any job all the nothing at all. Psychologists find perfectionism is often a defense mechanism for those who fear failure.
Or to do nothing worth doing. There was an old torch song with the words, “All or nothing at all.” That is unhealthy in relationships and especially in the leadership of people and organizations.
Scholars can narrow their range of study to the point of obscurity. In becoming an authority on the finest points reduces the opportunity for broad recognition of mistakes. The sadness in this is that some of our superb academic minds become experts in areas that limit their application and general usefulness.
An executive’s aim is progress, not perfection. Zero-defect is an idea that years ago became a wasteful management fad. Not many organizations can afford the enormous cost in effort, money, and talent. To move from 99.44% to 100.00% wasn’t even worth it for Ivory Soap!
Since the proper measure of an executive is productivity through the economical use of resources (human and material), the ideal of perfection is counter-productive.
A friend owned a company which demanded excellence from all its employees. One project became excessive in its search for faultless performance. Finally, the CEO stepped in to say, “You are striving for a level of excellence that makes no sense… you are wasting my time, man hours, and affecting my profitability.” Excellence and perfection are not synonymous.
In the parable of the talents, Christ pointed out the management problem of perfectionistic paralysis. The one talent servant who did nothing because he was afraid to do the wrong thing was the forebearer of today’s cautious perfectionists in executive ranks.
This week think about: 1) When do I use perfectionism as an avoidance technique? 2) Where would a little duct tape suffice? 3) What helps me distinguish between excellence and perfectionism?
Words of Wisdom: “Excellence and perfection are not synonymous.”
Wisdom from the Word: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NET Bible)