I learned 5 big lessons this year and I am sharing them here because I hope they will help someone else as much as they helped me. In Lesson 1, I shared how there is always something to be grateful for. Lesson 2 and Lesson 3 were all about the importance of having people in your life.
This lesson is about being kind to yourself.
A good leader tends to be very understanding about the mistakes and faults in their team – and very unforgiving towards their own.
If you have a business that’s running well, this is probably you. You will forgive suppliers for not meeting a deadline, you will forgive staff for making a mistake, you will forgive clients for treating you badly – but if you slip up, you’ll berate yourself forever.
2020 was the year of failure. Ideas that were pure gold – that would have been millionaire-makers in any other year – crashed and burned. People were tired, people panicked, people failed, ideas failed, businesses failed.
But the world is still here. We are still here. And we are much stronger than we were in January.
The truth is that no matter what year it is, if you are constantly striving to be perfect, then you will constantly fail.
There are days when I work like a machine. There are days when achieving a single productive hour is hard. There are days when I can handle everything thrown at me and days when I can’t face a difficult email. There are days when I want to talk to everybody and days when I don’t want to see a face that doesn’t have whiskers and fur. There are days when I have life-changing ideas and days when I battle to pick a font colour. Some days I am the bad-ass boss of my life and some days I am a scared little girl.
I have always berated myself for not being able to keep up a level of “perfection” but the simple truth is that perfection is impossible. I just need to be the best version of myself that I can be in that particular moment in time – that is definitely food enough.
It is ok to fail. It is ok to get it wrong.
There is an anecdote about Sir Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb. He had been working on a battery and things were, by all accounts, not going well. The story goes that he had had many failed attempts (the numbers change depending on the source) and so a well-meaning friend attempted to sympathise with the situation, stating what a terrible shame it was that such a tremendous amount of work had not produced any results. Apparently Edison turned to his friend with a smile and announced, “Results! Why my man, I have gotten lots of results! I know of several thousand things that won’t work.”
There is sufficient historical evidence that this incident did occur, although the exact wording and details change in different accounts. But whether it is true or not it, does highlight one truth:
Failure is actually only a matter of perspective.
Because every time you do fail, you also learn. And knowledge is far more powerful than success. Yes, failure has a cost and sometimes it is a very physical and painful cost – but it is never the end of the road, it is just the start of another one.
So instead of aiming for perfection, aim for excellence.
Excellence means knowing when your product or service is good enough – perfectionism will mean it never leaves the building.
Excellence means that you always do your best – perfectionism finds consistent fault with everything.
Excellence means understanding that your best changes depending on your circumstances – perfectionism ignores exhaustion and grief.
Excellence produces confidence – perfectionism produces shame.
Excellence means knowing your value – perfectionism means constantly underrating yourself.
Excellence learns from failure – perfectionism lives in fear of failure.
Do not live your life in fear of the inevitable. Do not strive for a standard that is impossible to meet.
It’s perfectly fine to fall down. Just get back up again.
This article was originally published by our founder on LinkedIn, here.