No doubt we have all experienced the (sometimes shocking!) blowback that can arise when people are unhappy with decisions that are made or problems that have arisen. Community outrage, walkouts, public smear campaigns, etc. can make anyone a little wary of putting their neck out – even for the right thing. This wariness can lead to fear of imperfection – fear of doing the right thing if we can’t be guaranteed great results, smooth sailing, or no conflict. Fear of imperfection leads to immobility. In the back of our minds, we hear the old adage “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
The lies that bind us
This is the one of the lies that bind us: if we can’t guarantee to do something well, it isn’t worth doing at all. But what price do we pay for believing it? What does this belief keep us from accomplishing – or even trying? What do we not do or accomplish because we are afraid of imperfection – afraid of failing, not succeeding or even just making a mistake?
The impact of action immobility
It is easy to observe the impact of failures. But what if we could measure the impact of things not attempted or accomplished? What if we measured the opportunity cost of not doing the important things – not just the impact of not doing them well? Sometimes the price of progress is living with imperfection.
As daunting as the unknown can be, we aren’t a victim to it – we can take active steps to maximize the success of a change or new initiative. We can make a well-considered choice that is aimed at the right objectives, involves the right people, examines a range of reasonable alternatives, and assesses the risks. We can develop and manage a reasonable plan for implementation. But even with all of this, we can’t avoid all bumps in the road.
Avoid the fear of imperfection
There is little excuse for sloppy thinking, implementation, or half-baked action. However, even well-intentioned and thought-through changes come with problems. Let’s not forego progress because we fear imperfection. A wise man (our founder, Benjamin B. Tregoe) liked to say: “Anything worth doing, is worth risking doing poorly.” Progress is priceless!