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Perfection paralysis

During our last two adventures to Quivera National Wildlife Refuge, I’ve taken many photographs of reeds and marginal plants. My goal is to seek the best representation of the plant and wait for the best light to highlight the subject.

It’s easy to do the same thing in organizations: to seek the best opportunity and the best time to act. Paralysis can set in while endless analysis and evaluation are done. Meetings without outcomes support the paralysis. Inertia takes over. It becomes simplest to do nothing.

Some might like to put the focus on “leadership”, expecting them to create movement. Yet each person in the system has a responsibility to act and contribute. Nor am I suggesting that we settle for marginal, neither the best or the worst.

But perfection paralysis leads directly to average and the “do nothing” doldrums. Today, choose to act and make decisions, to finalize processes or project steps – even when somewhat less than perfect. Encounter the freedom of good enough, the joy of letting go, and the power of moving forward.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kathleen:

    Your permission is so important for people to receive!

    So often when I’m working with individuals and teams needing to embark on change, or overwhelmed with it, they get stuck. They don’t want to make a decision or take on a risk – perhaps afraid of failure or a lack of confidence that they have what it takes to see the change through to the end.

    But no action – is action!

    I enjoy the book “The Art of Imperfection” by Veronique Vienne and Erica Lennard. The message and the photos are powerful. Glancing through the book the reader may think it’s written only for women, but it’s not. The message is appropriate and powerful for both genders. I’ve had success using it when coaching male leaders, as well as female.

    We’re fortunate to have so much information at our fingertips these days as a result of advancements in technology. And that’s a wonderfu thing for those situations where a review of all the facts is critical before making a decision. However, we also need to be comfortable moving forward without ALL the facts, and adjust things down the road if necessary.

    We’ll always have some margin of risk of failure, but that’s life. We all need to get comfortable with the fact that we are human – and just that recognition brings along with it the reality of imperfection.

    Learning to accept the vulnerability that comes along with not being perfect, is the first step in being able to evaluate the performance of others – not at a level of perfection – but at a reasonable level of giving the best performance they know how to do. And what a refreshing change to the workplace that can bring!

    Have a fabulous weekend.

    November 5, 2010
    • friesengroup #

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply and pointing my readers and me to a new book resource!

      I especially like the quotable line, “But no action – is action!” And, my hope would be that we all come to experience your suggestion to “accept the vulnerability that comes along with not being perfect.”

      November 5, 2010

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