If you have a “Be Perfect” working style you hesitate before you communicate. For example, in written reports you check for spelling and typographical errors, confirm facts, double check the grammar and continuously alter the layout. You demand of yourself and others a standard that may be beyond the purpose of your communication or the requirements of your audience.
You hate to be wrong, you’re probably a tad judgemental and you tend to do a lot of things yourself rather than delegating. Or you tend not to participate in activities unless you are really good at them or know you can win.
Clearly, there are several benefits from such precision and control. However, there are also drawbacks such as wasting time, missing out on feedback and the opportunity to calibrate, not encouraging other’s ideas and contributions, constraining creativity and not taking risks.
Do you remember getting a great mark for an essay at school, feeling chuffed, but not quite knowing what exactly you did to generate that result? However, if you wrote a poor essay you probably got lots of comments in red ink which gave you much better direction and understanding. Treat “failure as feedback”. Once you get over the wincing it can be a shortcut to getting things right rather than persevering on your own till you know it all or can do it all.
Consider a child’s first steps. Did she say “that’s it I’ve fallen over, this walking thing’s not for me”? No she got up altered her balance and tread until walking was no longer a challenge. By making mistakes she was able to test and calibrate her movements; by practising she embodied the skill of walking.
“Perfection” can also be intimidating for others. It may discourage them from interacting with you or offering to help you. After all, perfection is for the gods; part of the job specification for being human involves trial and error.
Too polished a report doesn’t invite others to assist or offer their ideas. Sharing a draft with others can save you time and can encourage creativity and collaboration.
Have you ever thought of the “accidents or failures” that were the genesis of inventions and scientific discoveries? Madame Curie, the development of penicillin and “post it notes” are just a few that come to mind.
How many of our greatest entrepreneurs or celebrities are testaments to Winston Churchill’s comment “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”. It is through being prepared to make mistakes and taking risks that we gain new information and we achieve our goals.
Don’t misunderstand me I’m not advocating sloppy or thoughtless work or communication. I’m reflecting on the benefits my clients and I have gained from giving something a go, rather than holding back just in case we got it wrong.
I’m really keen to hear your comments and experiences of “wrong is right” and accidents or failures that have been beneficial to humankind.
I invite you to reply to me below or call me to discuss on UK +44 (0) 20 7226 3611 or +44 (0) 7952 068133