I have finally come to realize an important lesson: I am, in fact, my own worst enemy.
I wrote this aphorism off in the past as a trite collection of words that held some truth but was more whimsy than useful guidance. I also cast it in the light of weakness, because somewhere I learned or had coded in my DNA that only success mattered to me. Now I know that is not true, healthy, logical or practical for anyone but, for some reason, I always held myself to a bar I would never assign to anyone else.
Yes, I know that is stupid too. Despite being a consultant I make a lot of mistakes too. In fact, I would say that the two are almost directly tied.
I was speaking to a good friend and he had a very different perspective on something I was reviewing about my own performance. His view, matched, identically, the view of my wife who is rarely wrong (Never wrong if you ask here and she might be right #teha). Essentially, what seemed to come to light was that by setting lofty goals, my teams usually:
- Achieve Tremendous Success
- Are Rewarded for It
- Are Emboldened to Take On Larger Tasks
Those are all good things in my book. But (that damn but!), when I review our progress against goals, 99.999% of the time, we did not meet the lofty internal goals I set. I hold those goals inside. I hold myself to those goals. I do it because I figure even if I don’t achieve them, myself and my team would have done an amazing job (the positive view). That would be great but I have fallen into a rutt.
I celebrate the teams victory but only tear apart my individual failures. I do this even when the result is not failure but failure to reach a goal that, when I set it, I already knew was almost unattainable. Doing this negates all of the success.
My friend dropped a Lombardi quote on me:
“Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”
Vince Lombardi Jr.
Now why is it so hard for me to understand this really simple concept? Excellence is what we are looking for, right? Critical analysis is a good thing. The goal of that analysis is to get better. The goal is NOT to tear down but rather guide our next efforts in an attempt to improve. This may be obvious to all of you readers but I am discovering how unclear it is to me daily.
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