What’s the difference between Excellence and Perfection?
I would say that one is a worthy pursuit, while the other is a frustrating ideal that is nearly impossible to achieve. The late Dr. Harriet Braiker might have agreed with me as she was quoted as saying “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” Still, there is a great deal of allure to the idea of perfection.
I received a range of comments on my blog last week – Done is better than perfect. Everything from “Thanks – I needed to hear that,” to “My clients won’t accept anything less than perfect.”
Perhaps levels of perfection exist, depending on your professional field (plastic surgeon versus wait staff professional), and/or what’s at stake for the customer (e.g., life-saving surgery versus a meal at a restaurant). Still we can all benefit from raising our professional standards. Or in some cases, recommitting to standards that we have allowed to slip and slide.
Confession of a lapsed blogger
I am a big believer in full disclosure and also of allowing myself to be open and vulnerable. With that said, I’m still a little embarrassed to tell you this. This year, I let my standards slip on blogging. I have been inconsistent, absent, and silent. Some of you may have noticed that.
My blogging standard used to be once a week. I held that standard for five years – consistently, even when I was going through cancer treatment in 2011. I was so proud of that standard. Writing and sharing my thoughts weekly gave me energy. It made me look at the world through a writer’s eyes. I loved it. And then for some reason, I let my standards slip.
PROTECT YOUR STANDARDS
“Our standards are at risk when we are doing well, tired, or distracted.”
– Mark LeBlanc
I had plenty of excuses for letting this standard slide. For example,
- I’m writing a new book and all of my writing energy is consumed with that project.
- No one really cares about my blogs. If they did, they would contact me and tell me that they miss my blogs and newsletters.
- People are busy and don’t want to be bombarded by emails and newsletters.
- The world has changed and is in crisis. I’m so distracted with the 24 hours news cycle.
- I relocated to a new area. I’m too busy to blog weekly.
- Okay, I’ll blog every two weeks, or once a month, or how about whenever I feel like it? Oh, I don’t feel like it anymore.
Even a Motivator Needs a Motivator
RAISE YOUR STANDARDS
“With every best practice there is a standard. Standards are the rudder of how we make decisions.”
– Mark LeBlanc
This past November, I attended the Whatever it Takes conference hosted by Mark LeBlanc, the business development coach. I’ve attended this annual conference in beautiful La Jolla, California four years in a row. It re-focuses me and gives me a healthy dose of butt-kicking accountability and inspiration to move forward with my business and my brand. This year, Mark spent a considerable amount of time talking about standards. He challenged us to raise our standards. He also asked us to recommit to standards that we have let deteriorate.
All I could think about was my blogging standard, and how I had walked away from it. It had given me such joy and energy and momentum. Was it too late to reclaim that standard? Could I recommit to it and do it again consistently? I hesitated to share that goal with the group, knowing that if I failed to fulfill the commitment, I would lose face, or worse, self-respect. So I waited until I could prove to myself that I could do it.
I know the formula. I’ve done it many times before. On average, it takes me 4 hours a week from inception to execution to publish a blog and issue a enewsletter. I have my team in place – proof-reader to review my writing, and a virtual marketing assistant to help me find or create a good image for each blog. I have the systems in place. I just need to recommit to this standard and get on with it.
The real reason for this week’s blog post is to make a public proclamation that I am recommitting to my standards and will resume blogging weekly, effective 3 weeks ago. That means next week, which is Christmas week, I am not off the hook. This will be a test of my commitment – or recommitment – to my blogging standard. Watch this space.
What Standards Are You Going to Raise in 2019?
As we approach the beginning of a new calendar year, it’s a good time to reflect on your standards. Which ones need a boost? Which ones need your recommitment?
STANDARDS COME FIRST
“Never let an ‘ender get in the way of a repeater.”
– Mark LeBlanc
If I may, let me suggest a few standards that might be worth raising. These happen to be in the areas that I spend most of my time studying, teaching, and writing about:
- Your Presentation Performance – reexamine how you prepare for meetings and presentations. Stop boring your audience with endless slides. Always start with a clean sheet and think through your key message and audience needs. Commit to communication mastery and presentation excellence by practicing before you perform.
- Your Networking Practice – recommit to timely and effective follow up. Don’t become lazy and over-reliant on social media to maintain your professional relationships. Create your own method of staying in touch with the important people in your life. Prioritize people over projects.
- Your Personal Brand – raise your standards for how you want to be known professionally. Think about that standard when you interact with other people at work, at home, online, and in the community.
Lastly, it might help to come clean with your own confession of the standards that you let slip this past year. Share them with a trusted adviser, like a business coach or life coach, a trusted friend or colleague, or a life partner who cares about your success and fulfillment. We all need a little external motivation, and someone to help hold us accountable. And remember, it’s never too late to raise your standards.