No One Is Perfect; Strive for Improvement
None of us are perfect but I cannot even begin to count the number of managers I have worked for who expected perfection from their employees. This unrealistic expectation does far more harm than good. So, what impact does expecting perfection have on employee performance?
When our best is never good enough, we quickly become frustrated. Your employees know that you are not perfect, they know that their colleagues are not perfect, so why is it that perfection is expected from them? It is a bar set far too high to ever reach. Instead of frustrating employees with the expectation of perfection, how about encouraging them to focus on continuous improvement; baby steps can take you a long way.
Lack of motivation
When frustration becomes a daily occurrence, we begin to lose the motivation to even bother striving to improve. When faced with unattainable expectations your employees will eventually tire of feeling like they are constantly swimming upstream. Setting small, attainable goals for your employees will not only get them from where they are to where you want them to be, it will also build their confidence and fuel their motivation.
Once we have lost the motivation to strive for excellence, we begin to settle for the status quo. The status quo never leads anyone to success; it feeds the mindset of good enough is good enough. While employees need to be made to feel that their contributions are valuable, you never want them to settle for stagnating at their current level of performance. This is where your encouragement and appreciation makes all the difference; help them to continue to make progress without overwhelming them with the unrealistic expectation of perfection.
Progress not Perfection
The key to success is progress, not perfection. Many will say that excellence is the enemy of perfection. I say that getting stuck in the good enough is good enough mindset leads to maintaining the status quo and status quo is the enemy of progress. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation. To further complicate the issue, the definition of perfection varies from person to person. Stop imposing the frustration of such an expectation on your employees. Fire up their motivation rather than stifling it. Encourage the small steps of progress that deter the tendency to settle. Continuous improvement should be the goal. What are you going to do to encourage and reward progress in your employees today?
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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