The Perfection Trap

As our own Peter Petralia often says “perfect is the enemy of good.” Yet so often we find ourselves pursuing it. How can we break free from the perfection trap and lead more effectively? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • Holding ourselves to a high bar is one of the traits that help us succeed as marketing leaders.
  • Despite our best intentions, the pursuit of perfection can lead to more harm than good.
  • Perfection can get in the way of making decisions efficiently. Sparking creativity and innovation. And being able to pivot when circumstances demand it.
  • Simply put: if you need to be certain that the solution is perfect before making a move, you will lose.
  • So what does it take to break free from perfection and lead more effectively?
  • One word: Agility.
  • Also known as the ability to adapt to changes quickly and at scale.
  • Evidence shows that agility can improve customer-centricity. Operational performance. And employee engagement.
  • To put agility into practice, start with some clear goals and principles that define what it looks like in concrete terms.
  • HBR suggests prioritizing speed over perfection without compromising quality. Empowerment over hierarchy. Learning over blaming. And flexibility over rigid planning.
  • Applying these principles can sometimes be easier said than done.
  • As humans, agility doesn’t come naturally. Evolution has hardwired our brains for distractions. Ego. And empathy.
  • When we’re flooded with information, it can be hard to not jump from one thing to the other. Emails. Meetings. News headlines. GIF-packed Slack threads.
  • To combat distractions, deepen your focus and awareness by working in small sprints. And between each one, give yourself a few moments of pause.
  • As for our egos, let’s acknowledge that they can sometimes get attached to past successes. And because of this, we may resist new approaches.
  • The remedy for ego is selflessness—reflecting on how we can better serve our organization’s mission.
  • As for empathy, if we’re not careful it can lead to too much internalizing and not enough action.
  • Turn empathy into compassion by asking yourself how you can better show up for your team.
  • Ultimately, freeing ourselves from perfection requires giving ourselves—and our team—some grace.
  • And some permission to take in new perspectives—like this newsletter. 😉
Issue #169
May 28, 2023

Further Reading