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

1 comment:

Robbie said...

When I played soccer as a kid, my parents would say things like, "as long as you do your best." I always found this confusing. After all, if I truly gave it my best, I would die of exhaustion as the whistle blew to end the game. We can always do more, but in doing so, we necessarily sacrifice something else. My parents should have been on the sidelines cheering, "Exert a reasonable amount of effort without compromising any of your other priorities!" That would have been inspiring.