The Perfection Trap

A few months ago, we bought a new Honda Pilot.  It was shiny new and right off the truck.  It had four miles when we first looked at it. Even though it was brand new, the carpet under the driver’s side seat was a little “worn” looking. There are little air vents for the people in the middle row that protrude through the carpet. For some reason, the carpet was cut a little uneven.  We didn’t notice this immediately.  When we did, we felt as though the car was not good enough.  We got over it after a few days and are really enjoying our new car.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I realized our concept of “perfection” goes well beyond the cars we purchase.  As a writer, I know all too well the traps of perfectionism. The “perfect” blog post is still being worked on and will never be read, the childless parents are waiting for the “perfect” time well into their forties as nature slips away, and that “perfect” vacation is still only a brochure.  Confusing good enough with perfection is worse than its distant cousin: confusing bad,  with good enough.  At least the bad work gets shipped and gives the world something that it can fix.
 Perfection rarely gets shipped.  This isn’t because we don’t have talented people working among us.  It’s because we are people and people are not perfect.
Whatever it is that “perfection” has hostage, ship it today.  A 90% perfect blog post today is better than the idea of a 100% blog post tomorrow.  Write two  90% posts in the next two days and that’s 180% perfect.  Letting go of perfect gives you the real opportunity to transform your idea into something very real. Ideas are a lot like clogs in the shower drain.  A lot  of people have them, but they are only significant when they are in the shower.  Let go of perfection and grab on to action.

What perfect ideas are you holding on to?


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Baseball is Perfectly Imperfect, and so are YOU!

 Baseball, is a game of intellect, talent, and timing.  Baseball, unlike many other sports, plays out each and everyday to the bitter end.  There is no rush to the finish, no ticking time clock, simply 9 innings (or more for extra inning games).  Widely noted as a national sport in the United States by the late 19th Century, baseball is a game of tradition and history.  Terms such as “the integrity of the game”, or “purity of the sport” are often thrown into the mix. Baseball is a great reminder of how life “should work” and how it “actually works”. The infamous asterisk of Roger Maris’ 61 home run in one season record stood for many years as a reminder of changes and the effects of those changes moving forward.  The baseball season had been 154 games before 1961.  Purity, perfection, equal opportunity? Not really.
[Eddie Cicotte, Chicago AL, at Polo Grounds, N...

[Eddie Cicotte, Chicago AL, at Polo Grounds, NY (baseball)] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

There is a  human attempt at perfection, yet the beautifully perfect imperfection of the umpires captures the essence baseball more than anything.

On any given day, an umpire can call the same exact pitches balls or strikes.  Of course, only technology can tell us that they are “exactly” the same pitch location.  The human eye isn’t that good.  Instant replay is making a small impact on limited plays in the game, but looks to remain at the behest of the umpires; the very human umpires who blew calls such as the obvious out that would have ended a perfect game in 2010 for Tigers pitcher Armando Galaraga.  The human umpires who didn’t see the fan who clearly reached over the fence in the 2006 ALCS to “assist” Derick Jeter’s home run effort.  I am not advocating any changes though. Even my beloved Angels were affected in 2005 by a terrible call that had the entire west coast scratching it’s head while the Chicago White Sox got an extra out and went on to win…and win…and win.  While the Angels went home to fish. It’s Baseball’s utter humanness that connects us to the game.  Every team and every player is so ridiculously close to greatness, yet so far.  A batter getting a hit 25% of the time is mediocre.  A batter getting a hit 30% of the time is great.  That’s roughly 25 hits difference or 1 per week.  How about a championship team winning 95 games being touted as great?  The team at home watching the playoffs won less than 6% less games, and is forgotten.
     Life, like baseball, is a game of inches.  So often, it’s the little things that separate the great from the mediocre.  The only way to separate the truly great teams from the mediocre is to play for a long time.  Somehow, 162 games seems reasonable.  Life is the same.  My beloved Angels won the World Series in 2002.  They won 99 regular games.  They lost 14 of the first 20 games.  Instead of giving up, they showed up. Every day.  Baseball teaches us that our humanness; our imperfections are what make us perfect.  We work through them and keep humanity humanly pure.  So the point of all this is to show up everyday.  We live in an imperfect world that sometimes throws us a “stinker”.  We just ride that out and show up again. If you’re batting .250 in life, find a way to get 1 more hit per week.  This might be seminars, books, sales calls, or whatever else you can do to make incremental progress.
What are you going to do today to get that “extra hit”?
Rocco De Leo

Are You Failing at Authenticity?

Buzz words are all the buzz these days.  Some are fleeting phrases for a moment in time, while others have staying power and are truly profound.  This isn’t a post on phrases however,  or on the english language.  This is the power one word has over me, and how Jamie hit me over the head with it.  Words hurt, and words mean something.  Authenticity is one of those heavy words that leave a mark when they hit you; like a piece of plywood. While this word strikes me in particular, it is something I have thought about and challenged myself with for a long time.  To be authentic is to be what?  This blog is new to the world, but the ideas shared here on positivity and forward thinking are not new to me.  Not to say I don’t have moments of authenticity failure.  Last night I had a minor financial setback involving my mortgage and a mistake Citibank made with my escrow impound increasing my house payment from mildly uncomfortable to squirming in my seat uncomfortable.  I had about 45 minutes of authentic failure.  I panicked, went immediately to worse case and lost all focus on what was really in front of me.  I fell apart for a few minutes. My beautifully talented fiance’ challenged me.  She questioned if I am actually living the life I write and talk about (imagine that 99% of my material is yet to be blogged-she knows way too much).  Am I full-of-shit?  She stopped me in my tracks.  The Merriam-Webster definition of authenticity  in  this context is simply “not false” or to be “real”.  Authenticity  does not require perfection or even a perfect adherence to one’s own teaching.  The intention (another great word), drive, and desire to live our own teaching must be present.  Credibility can stand challenged if we are falling too short of our own teaching, but “less than perfect” is not “too short”.

The Authenticity  Gremlin can rear it’s ugly head if we feed it our doubt and allow it to grow.  We must certainly challenge ourselves to live our own message.  A pastor mired in adultery, a police officer addicted to drugs, or a teacher cheating on state testing are not areas of “just falling short”.  These are great failures of behavior.  Asking them to be perfect, though is impossible.  The last time I checked, the only sinless person to ever live was nailed to a cross 2000 years ago.  That’s not to say they can’t recover their authenticity. Trust may be challenged and even un recoverable.  Trust is earned and received while authenticity is lived and given away.  Those of us with a message to share (i’d argue that’s actually all of us) will certainly be held to a higher standard when it comes to our message.  You will be your own drill sergeant.  I read my own material because I learn from my own words. I am authentic as long as I share my imperfections.  Living fully with our passions, dreams, and needs/wants, is not easy.  If it was, I wouldn’t have a purpose to write.  You will hit bumps in the road on the way to “dreamville”.  Keep in mind these 3 things along the way to stay authentic:
1.  Has your message changed? The methods and tools may need to adapt and change, but the message should remain the same.
2.  Do you believe your message NEEDS to be heard or are you trying to SELL something? Intentions are important and dreams are seldom “get rich quick schemes”.
3.  Are others sharing similar messages?  Usually this is a good thing.  Sometimes being the first to share a message is great. but many times you’re the only one sharing it because it’s right (timing may also be a factor) If, after challenging yourself and your message, you discover its uniqueness is what makes it valuable, then by all means, share it with the world.  You’ve done the homework to quiet the Gremlins in your head and are ready to lead the charge.
    You know your true authenticity.  Check in with yourself.  Utilize a system to evaluate your progress on a monthly or quarterly basis.  I like Getting things Done (GTD) or Seven Habits.  The point is to take a look at your map every once in a while to make sure true authenticity.
Rocco De Leo
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