Thursday, February 21, 2008

Excellence vs. Perfection

"Commit to excellence rather than to perfection."

Ken Shelton suggests this in the February 2008 issue of Leadership Excellence. What a concept! Too often I equate the two when they really are different. Excellence allows for dynamic growth processes where we are constantly under the positive tension of striving for "superior" over "average." Yet it has the benefit of leaving room for failure and forgiveness. After all, to strive for excellence requires risk. Perfection is almost the opposite in nature: static, legalistic, and merciless. A commitment to excellence over perfection is a must for servant leaders.

Shelton's simple advice grants freedom. Commitment to excellence rather than perfection gives me the freedom to strive, to fail, to forgive, and to sleep at night when I've given my best rather than worrying about meeting someone else's standard.

Lately I've confused excellence and perfection. Have you?

IDEA LEADER: Where have you pursued "perfection" instead of "excellence"?

Photo: Dominik Gwarek

Monday, February 11, 2008

Smile and the world smiles with you

Mother Teresa's 1979 Nobel Prize lecture suggests that world peace begins with love. That is certainly no new idea and neither is her next assertion: love begins at home. What makes the speech interesting is her insistence that love begins with a smile.

From anyone else, I would dismiss that as pure silliness. However, Mother Teresa's life earns her a second consideration. Teresa says that we should smile even when it is difficult, because true love does the difficult thing.

Now I think she is on target. As I've mentioned before, I tend to be melancholy, so I appreciate the fact that smiling is not always an easy thing to do. Considering the horrors that Teresa saw as she ministered among some of the poorest people in the world, I would think smiling would be difficult for her too.

So after reading her speech I am resolved to smile more. Both at work and at home. And I trust that the effort it takes will also be an effort made toward experiencing peace - maybe not world peace, but more peace at home and at work.

IDEA LEADER: How often do you smile while leading others?

Photo: Darren Hester