What drives you to seek perfection? Perhaps it’s your boss setting lofty expectations. Maybe it’s a personal standard you’ve set for high levels of achievement. It could also be cultural norms or family values that have shaped your desire for flawlessness.
In a study by the American Psychological Association, the “irrational desire to achieve more, along with being overly critical of oneself and others,” is on the rise. Between 1989 and 2016, the study found self-oriented perfectionism scores increased by 10%, socially prescribed increased by 33%, and other-oriented measures increased by 16%.
Like every brittle New Year’s resolution, we often snap under the overwhelming pressure of perfection within our credit union. If we’re honest with ourselves, perfection is a subjective and often unattainable concept. What one considers perfect may differ from another’s, and the pursuit can lead to stress, anxiety, and a sense of inadequacy.
Let’s change our mindset. Instead of striving for perfection, how can we achieve excellence in our credit union? In baseball, a season batting average of .300 or higher is excellent. As we look at our individual and team goals for the credit union, how can we raise our “batting average”?
Focus on the Process, Not the Product
The ultimate outcome is important, but how you get there – steps taken, lessons learned, and the moments lived – are just as crucial. How often do you find you didn’t serve the member well or an error occurred at the credit union because you didn’t follow the process? If the process is sound, you will always meet expectations. The most successful credit unions take a more proactive approach to reviewing their processes and strive to improve them.
Note Well: Your members value authenticity over perfection.
The road to excellence is paved with a series of well-navigated failures. One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan, once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I’m successful.”
It’s important that you do not internalize failure or allow failure to push you toward avoiding future challenges or new opportunities. Also, be mindful of projecting negative emotions, such as blaming others or deflecting responsibility.
Remember: Setbacks are not the reason to give up, but are challenges to overcome.
Quiet the Inner Critic
There’s often a self-sabotaging voice within us that can hinder our personal and professional growth. Take those limiting beliefs about yourself and others and change them into liberating truths. Instead of a mindset that is innate and unchangeable, replace it with a growth mindset. This includes embracing challenges, adapting to changes, believing effort is a path to mastery, learning from criticism, and celebrating efforts and not just outcomes.
Jot this down: Time wasted on perfection is time lost in progress.
In the pursuit of goals and excellence within your credit union, embrace the mantra that “done is better than perfect.” It serves as a gentle reminder that waiting for perfection can often lead to inaction. Not all tasks require perfection either. Every completed endeavor, no matter how imperfect, becomes a stepping stone toward growth and success.