Progress, Not Perfection!

Published on February 8, 2013 by

A few years back I had a phone appointment – but not just any phone appointment. I was scheduled to be interviewed by Matt, a reporter for The New York Times for a piece he was writing on influencing others at work. I have to tell you, I was excited about being quoted in The New York Times! We scheduled the appointment for the lunch hour because I was going to be presenting a seminar that day, and it was the only time I had to talk. Did I tell you I was excited about the interview?

I was counting the days – and it finally came. The only problem? I forgot about the appointment until 12:30pm, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks! I grabbed my cell phone, called Matt, and told him I had forgotten the appointment and apologized. He was very gracious and he asked me if I could still do the interview.

Iwill never forget that. I’m talking about Matt’s graciousness, but also about something else that became crystal clear to me that day: making things happen in your life isn’t about being perfect and never blowing it – even with something big.

Making things happen has a lot to do with how we recover and bounce back from mistakes, big or small. Progress and success aren’t about being “successful” each time we go for something – it’s about picking up the pieces when we drop the ball and putting them back together. It’s about being gracious, not only to others, but to ourselves.

Progress and success involve realizing that when we say “no one is perfect,” we have to include self in that count. When we make a mistake, we have to know how to move on while keeping our dignity and self-worth intact.

We all blow it. Sometimes we miss a deadline, say something we regret, fail to follow through on a promise, or turn in work we know isn’t going to cut it. I’m not saying we should that it isn’t a big deal – it is. I’m saying we shouldn’t make it out to be the end of the world, because it isn’t. We can apologize, we can get a plan to make things right, and we can get ourselves back on track. It’s okay to blow it from time to time – what’s important is how we handle ourselves afterward. In other words, our success is about progress, not perfection.

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