The Illusion of Perfection May Not Serve a Team
February 21, 2017
Strive to do your very best in each moment, because striving for
perfection may not serve a team.
My father wrote a piece titled Three Dimensional Imperfection. “Only through illusion do we see man’s interpretation of perfection,” he recommended we see beyond the illusion of perfection to live an inspired life.
While attending the Veterinary Wellness Summit in Fort Collins this past Fall, my eyes were tearful quite a few times. First, the concept of the “Good Enough Mother” hit home for so many reasons. Friday morning’s keynote speaker was a veterinarian and a practicing psychotherapist elaborating on the idea of the Good Enough Mother and understanding the magnitude of mental health issues in veterinary medicine. I was overwhelmed with a sense of connection as her words rang true in my heart, even though I only recognized a fourth of her psychoanalytic mumbo-jumbo terminology.
As the weekend unfolded at the Wellness Summit, the attendees embraced ideas in gratitude, letting go and being a perfectionist. Being intrigued by it all, I have begun diving deeper into the realm of living well and the idea that giving 110% is impossible, PLUS the illusion of perfection.
During the summit, I recall having a conversation with a veterinarian from Cornell University. He explained he burned through veterinary team members like they were going out of style, all the while placing his unhealthy attitude towards being perfect onto his undeserving team. Once he experienced his paradigm shift in letting go of the unrealistic expectation of being perfect, he began forming stronger, satisfying working relationships with his veterinary team.
Many years ago I attended a 9-month Gunnison Valley Leadership Program. One of the first facilitators presented the concept of the Japanese term “Torieazu.” She helped the group understand there will be times when there is enough information to make a decision. Instead of waiting for the “perfect circumstances,” which may NEVER appear, it is best to make a move, to take action! “For the time being” we know enough!
Yet another wise entrepreneur and coach explained “Ready, Fire, Aim!” There are times when you have enough information to pull the trigger (take action) and adjust afterwards. Think about how many times this is the approach in determining a diagnosis and treatment. I vividly recall a respected veterinarian encouraging newly graduated veterinarians to make a decision, for the sake of the patient and the client. No action can be more detrimental than a perceived wrong action.
Veterinarians and team members may be hung up in the unrealistic pretense of being perfect (the illusion or perception of the perfect family, the perfect job, the perfect life, the perfect team, etc). “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that is we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame. It’s a shield. Its a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, its the thing that’s really preventing us from flight,” states Dr. Brene Brown in her book The Gifts of Imperfection.
Although definitions vary, perfectionism is an outsized concern about making mistakes. As a result, perfectionists are driven by their fear of failure. A team constantly in fear of making a mistake or fear of failure has little chance of reaching greatness. A team that is encouraged to do their very best, in each moment, has hope.
There are pros and cons in striving for perfection and working with a perfectionist. Pros may include attention to detail, organization and a polished product. Cons of working with a perfectionist may include losing site of the objective, painstakingly slow, an unrealistic goal and the overarching fear of failure or making a mistake.
My point is this; in the realm of veterinary team working to its highest potential and achieving its common goals, there will be times when the team must take aim, pull the trigger, take action and adjust. To wait for the “perfect circumstances” will be detrimental to achieving success.