Many people don’t know the difference between excellence and perfectionism, since many of us were brought up to believe that excellence means doing everything perfectly all the time and being equally perfect at everything, like getting As in every subject in school. Yet, the most successful people were rarely straight-A students in school and while they might have earned As in some subjects, their getting Bs and even Cs in other subjects is just as common.
In sales, non-perfectionistic salespeople earn considerably more than their perfectionistic colleagues. They also experience fewer problems with motivation because they don’t need to do everything right every time to feel good about themselves and their performance. Bottom line: It is through curbing our perfectionistic tendencies that we free ourselves up to be excellent.
Our excellences are whatever talents and abilities we can express through trained skills and earned competencies. It’s the opportunity to exercise our excellences that makes us feel good, pushes us to do our best and makes our activities fulfilling.
Happy people are people who can exercise their excellences every day. There is no limit to how high they can go or how far they can stretch themselves. The reverse is also true. People are unhappy when they’re forced to function below their level of excellence or deprived of opportunities to move to higher levels. This is why most morale problems in the workplace cannot be solved solely with money.
Of course, there are times when we may have to choose between being excellent and being safe and secure. For reasons economic or otherwise, sometimes we may choose to put our excellences on hold. However, in the long run, it is only our excellences that can make us truly happy. Therefore, we may have to decide at some point whether it’s more important to be happy or to be safe and secure.
Finally, it is when we choose excellence over everything else that we feel most comfortable in our skin, most engaged with our work and most positive about our future.