Better, Best & Perfectionism

If you were to ask my younger self what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you an art teacher and a mom. I had no interest in business, in my mind business meant numbers and I did not enjoy math or accounting. The thought of business was boring to me.

Life has a way of changing our plans. We are given opportunities and experiences that provide different perspectives. When I chose to earn my MBA degree, I found human resource management interesting, and of course, I specialized in Marketing which allows me the creative aspect for my artistic side. Regardless of what I saw myself doing as a profession when I was a child, there is a direct correlation with life and work regardless of the profession.

Businesses have tag lines claiming they are the “Best” in the business or service they offer. We want to be able to lay claim to being good at something.

Are you one of the people who claim to be a perfectionist? I recently read that perfectionism is the opposite of striving for excellence. Perfection is setting an unattainable standard. People who seek perfection are afraid of criticism and failure. A perfectionist is never happy, they often see the glass as half full, because instead of seeing the success they focus on the little things they could have done differently.


Brené Brown said: “Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system…” If we were perfect then there is no room for growth. Personal growth, to learn and to achieve new things is what drives most people.

The same is with business, to explain your business is the best in the industry is not true. To be the best means you have reached the top and there is no room for growth. There is also no standard or metrics that measure the ‘best’.  Simon Sinek said that “better” is a realistic claim and much easier comparison. Businesses can say they are providing a better customer experience than their competitors. Sinek goes on to say that claiming to be better means that you have to keep pushing, learning and improving.

Complacency and contentment cause us to fall behind the competition. Contentment causes us to waste time. Wasting time is when you do things that do not contribute to any self-development or improvement. The best way to help our minds and business to grow is to talk to people which provides a different perspective and inspires us, this means moving beyond our circle of friends. Ask the cashier, talk to the server, as your customers. Ask questions, listen.

10 ways to strive for being better…

  1. Know your strengths and your weaknesses

Admitting to your strengths and weaknesses allows you to strive for better. Perform a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and threats).

  1. Have pride in yourself and your work.

Do not fall in the trap of always seeing your faults as bad. Take pride in your accomplishment regardless of how small or big the accomplishment. I had decided to take up running. When I started I was terrible. I couldn’t even jog for ten seconds without being breathless. I had to learn how to breathe, how to run and I would set a small goal to be able to jog for ten seconds, then it was 30 seconds. Each increment got longer. I then thought if I could run a half-mile without stopping.  Eventually, over time and perseverance, I was able to work my way up to running 5 miles without having to stop to walk. I still consider myself a slow runner, I see myself as the tortoise in the race. Others are faster and I am okay with that, I know where I started and I celebrated each success along the way.

  1. Share your knowledge and talents

In life and business, we all have experiences that we can share with others to give them a different viewpoint. The thing that makes teams successful is that together you are successful.

  1. Practice gratitude especially with the small things.
  2. Learn something new
  3. Choose to excel, despite the level of difficulty.

Remember when I said I didn’t like math, well that is still true, however in earning my undergrad degree and my masters as a business major I still had to learn accounting and how to read profit and loss statements. Taking pride to excel even if it is challenging to us pushes us to want to conquer it.

  1. Reflect on your success that contributes to the larger goal (team)

We don’t get anywhere on our own. Do not forget to take into account the perception of your customers. How do your customers feel about your business and services?  How do they see you?

  1. Step outside of your comfort zone, take a risk, be creative. Accept a challenge.

In life and business, there is always room for improvement. There is always something more we can strive at.

  1. Surround yourself with positive people. A good mentor, a team of cheerleaders.
  2. Forgive yourself for past mistakes and failures so you can learn from them.

As we strive for excellence in life and work, remember that there just because something is good is not sufficient. Good, is a great place to start, for sustainability and growth we need to continually be striving for better. Better than we were yesterday, better than we were last week, last month and last year. Ask how your co-workers and customers perceive you. Growth, regardless of how small it is still growing, celebrates each success.

Cheryl Viola, MBA, Executive Director