Don is Better Than Perfect
Reilly can tell you, that before you read this post this pleasant Sunday morning, he’ll have received at least 10 emails from readers alerting him to the fact that he’s made a typo in the headline.
Most of them will be polite and well-intentioned.
‘There’s an ‘e’ in ‘Done’ in the headline of your article,’ they’ll tell him. ‘It’s a simple mistake and could happen to a Professor.’
Another, a competitor of sorts to Reilly, will be infinitely more triumphant.
‘Reilly, it’s one thing making a typo in the main body of the text, which you do on a regular basis. It is, however, totally shooting yourself in the foot when you make it in the headline.
‘That’s why I still have Mother scour every word of my writing before ever going to print. She’s a stickler for perfection, my Dear Mother. Ever since I’ve been a young boy, Mother and I have strived for absolute perfection in everything we do and would tolerate nothing less.’
‘This is so typically imperfect of you that I refuse to waste any further time reading another word of this article.’
* * * *
It’s a pity really because there actually isn’t a typo in the headline. And had he taken on board the message therein he might have learned a valuable lesson for both business and life.
Here’s the story.
At the end of their Smácht session on Wednesday last, Reilly, as is his wont, went around the zoom room asking people what they’d learned.
Reilly sensed from Frank Byrnes’ swagger that he had a humdinger.
‘I learned this week that it’s better to strive for progress than perfection.’
You could have heard a pin drop on zoom such was the level of engagement and understanding.
‘Why’s that,’ says Reilly, knowing Frank had hit a nerve.
‘Because if you’re always waiting for things to be perfect there’s a good chance you’ll never start anything.’
‘Done is better than perfect every day of the week’ is my motto. I preach it constantly to my team and my kids.’
It was at this precise moment that Don Colleran‘s eyes welled up visibly with tears. Reilly had known Don for 40 years, through good times and bad, and he’d never ever once seen him reduced publicly to tears.
‘What’s the matter Don,’ asked Reilly sympathetically.
‘I’ve always thought too that I was better than perfect. It’s just that no one else has ever said it to me publicly before. Joanne, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m going home this instant to my wife and family to tell them what you’ve said.’
And to be fair, apart from shockingly poor hearing, Don is pretty close to being better than perfect.
• Stop waiting for the perfect weather; the perfect business; the perfect person; the perfect time. Life is too short to be little. On your bike.
• Striving for perfection only ever adds stress to everything you do. It’s demoralising in the extreme because you can rarely ever meet the impossibly high standards that perfectionism demands. As such, you will constantly feel like a failure irrespective of how much you achieve.
• Here’s the thing about perfectionism. The perfect outcome is not always within your control and perfectionism has little tolerance for failure and absolutely no compassion for mistakes.
• On the other hand, in a great article in PsychCentral, columnist Sharon Martin declares of people who strive for progress: ‘ they accept that mistakes are an inevitable part of the journey and value what they learn from them. They do not let mistakes define them. But perfectionists see mistakes as evidence of their own inadequacy and inferiority. They expect themselves to know everything, to outperform everyone, to always know the right thing to do or say, to be above reproach, and never let anyone down. This is not only unrealistic. It’s a heavy burden to carry.’
Reilly couldn’t have been prouder of the Herculean accomplishment of Renmores finest – Daman Browne – on Tuesday last when he arrived in Furbo having rowed from New York. It reminded us all in Smácht of our own Karen Weekes who also rowed the Atlantic earlier this year.
And then Reilly had near apoplexy when he read on social media of someone suggesting that Damian hadn’t accomplished his goal because he’d been ‘rescued.’ Reilly could have throttled him.
That was until he remembered the plaque that his boss at the time, Sandy Dunlop, had presented him with on his first day’s work at the Synectics Corporation. It had inscribed on it the words of former President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who said at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910.
‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’
The other iconic quote that is well worth ‘plaquing’ (I know it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad) in relation to ‘Don is Better Than Perfect’ is the one from Goethe.
‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!’
‘The first two letters of ‘DONE’ (and indeed Don) are ‘DO.’
—Reilly’s old buddy, Dermot Duignan
1. What are you waiting for to be perfect before you begin it?
2. What progress have you made today?