Perfection is Rare, Greatness is Your Destiny!

Paul Arden once said, “Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you have, and fix it along the way”.  I cannot reiterate this enough, perfect has, and always will, be the enemy of great.  In previous columns, we have addressed change, transformation, revitalization, and how best to achieve these.  The key ingredient for success is typically the ability to enact these efforts quickly and decisively. Remember, great changes rarely come through evolution, it will come through revolution. They come because of a willingness to be decisive and act. Those moving slowly through change are usually indecisive and most likely afraid of change. You can spot those most resistant to change as they consistently are attempting to find ways to slow it down.

While moving slow usually hinders change and transformation, another threat to change is the expectation of perfection.  When communities, businesses, and companies embark on change, especially unknown change, they tend to measure their success based on perfection and how well they do as it relates to their original plans and goals. Understand, change comes with alterations, failure, and bumps. Even worse, many get caught in the trap of seeking perfection and ignoring the greatness that may be occurring right before them.

One of the greatest attributes of transformational leadership is understanding nearly every worthwhile transformation will involve pivots and deviating from the original plans. Transformational leadership is truly an art.  Transformational leadership is the art of understanding when to pivot, how to pivot, where to pivot and finally, when to rinse and repeat doing it again. All to commonly, communities or businesses become bogged-down in attempting to create a perfect model or execute the perfect plan. While we might give them an A+ for attempting to stick to the script, they receive an F- because they are unwilling to adjust the script. As they say, a great sailor can sail their boat in all sorts of winds by simply adjusting their sails.

I have mentioned Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia in a previous column.  In 2007, they rented out air mattresses in San Francisco to conference attendees due to lack of available hotel rooms for nearby conferences. They called their business Air Bed and Breakfast. However, it wasn’t long before they realized without conferences in the area, their business model wasn’t sustainable.  They rethought their entire business model. They made a monumental pivot and took the concept nationwide for all travelers.  That pivot is worth $50 billion today! Had they stuck with the original plan, Airbnb would not exist today.

I have seen entire industries, communities and businesses racked with the inability to pivot when pivoting was crucial.  Group think in leadership or community is a death nail in the coffin.  Group think assures you rarely innovate or make the changes required to survive.  Leadership is crucial when it comes to change or transformation. Leaders must convince others to alter course as needed and be able to provide and instill confidence in the entire team to affect the most viable change or alterations. When teams have faith in the transformational leadership skills of their leaders, little will stop them from achieving greatness regardless of the obstacles in the way.

Leaders with the ability to build community and business dreams are rare. When a community or business comes across these individuals, they must empower them and support them. Every community or business achieving greatness has done so because a dreamer had a vision in what that community or business could become. They achieved greatness behind a leader willing to take risks. They did so behind a leader willing to accept greatness in lieu of seeking perfection. They embraced what could be and would not settle for the current status-quo.

In closing, the message of change and transformation must be coupled with relentless communication and other components. All is for naught if we only focus on perfection in lieu of accepting greatness. Achieving greatness as a community or business involves effective communication, quality teamwork, sparkling innovation, all of which lead to the joy of transformation. That said, as stated above, never allow perfect be the enemy of great!

John Newby is a nationally recognized Columnist, Publisher, Community, Business, Media, and strategic consultant & speaker. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column is enjoyed by 60+ communities around the country. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists community and business leaders in building synergies that create vibrant communities. He can be reached at:

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