Before you read any further, get up and close the door. At the very least, keep this under wraps. Now lean in close and listen carefully. What I’m about to tell you is a top-secret announcement that no manager or leader has ever thought of before:
WE DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT!
That’s right, I’m shouting. You need to hear this. And more than just hear this, you need to incorporate this idea into your thinking process and let it affect your every-day actions. Doing so can bring you more success than you ever thought possible.
Exactly how can it bring you more success? I’m glad you asked.
Don’t get bogged down
Too many managers and leaders get weighed down by some form of the thought, “Whatever I do has to be perfect. If it’s not perfect, I shouldn’t attempt it at all.” While it is important to do things well, giving too much of your energy to making things perfect can keep you from taking action all together.
Instead of making moves to get things done, we become experts at making moves to get things ready. We become so wrapped up in trying to ensure that everything will be perfect, we fail to move forward. We get bogged down in the minutiae and become consumed with trying to make each and every detail just right.
Imagine yourself stuck in the wilderness with nothing but your wits and your own two feet. You know there’s a village about three miles due west and you can follow the setting sun in that direction. Are you going to spend the next two hours planning the perfect route and scheduling your rest breaks? Or are you going to start walking and let the rest take care of itself?
Think about that for a moment. Start walking straightaway, and two hours later you’ll be in the village enjoying the generosity of the locals. Start planning and scheduling, and two hours later you’ll still be in the same place.
It really doesn’t matter that you take the optimal route or that you get enough rest along the way. What matters is that you get where you need to go.
Just do it!
I’m not saying that all planning should be done away with. On the contrary, planning is important. But when you know what needs to be done and how you’re going to do it, go ahead and do it.
Yes, this unplanned, unscheduled approach isn’t perfect. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be. And while getting started without much planning may seem like random action with no thought whatsoever, it’s really very much more than that.
Because when you know the basics—where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, you can do ‘just enough’ thinking followed by ‘just enough’ action. This leads to ‘just enough’ results which delivers a lot more than the perfect plan that was never implemented.
The Latin phrase carpe diem—seize the day—is an important one for any manager who is trying to get things done. But perhaps more important is a lesser known Latin phrase that really zeros in on the importance of taking action: carpe momentum. Seize the moment.
Carpe momentum capsulizes the idea that there’s no time like the present moment to get moving. There are more moments in a day than there are days in your life. Each and every one of those moments can be seized. Each and every one of those moments can be a beginning that takes your project one step closer to completion.
So don’t wait for the perfect moment. And don’t waste all your moments trying to work out a way to make all the other moments perfect. Seize the moment you’ve got, then go and do something with it.
The moment is now
Put perfection out of your mind. It’s a losing battle after all. Don’t expect perfection from yourself. Don’t expect perfection from your employees. And don’t expect perfection from your plans and the results they yield.
Avoid becoming an expert at ‘getting ready.’ Instead, become an expert at getting things done. When you know the direction you need to go, start walking. Don’t plan and fret over the best possible route, just go. You can always change course later on.
Start with ‘just enough’ thinking followed by ‘just enough’ action. Get ‘just enough’ results and then, if necessary, build on those results until they’re somewhere between ‘enough’ and ‘great.’ But remember, don’t strive for perfection because you’ll never catch it.
Cross out carpe diem on your list of motivational phrases and replace it with carpe momentum. Then use each and every moment of your day to take action—not perfect action, mind you, just action.
Alright, lean in close again and listen carefully. What I’m about to tell you is another top-secret announcement that no manager or leader has ever thought of before:
THE MOMENT IS NOW!
Author: Peter Anderton
A sought after coach and change agent, Peter has spent many years in Organisational Development, focusing on developing high performance leadership teams, executive coaching, strategy and change. He builds relationships quickly and is as comfortable in the boardroom as he is at ‘grass roots’. Known for his integrity, energy and a real passion for making things happen, he has a uniquely direct yet supportive style that delivers.
Peter is a qualified NLP master practitioner, a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a Chartered Engineer.