Monday, November 14, 2016

Goldilocks Success Principles

Although Goldilocks may not be the model of 'Success' that would first come to mind, she had one clear insight that we could all benefit from. She was a strong proponent of the value of recognising when things were 'just right'. For those of us striving to achieve a given level of success in our careers and lives, the concept of 'just right' is an important one to integrate into our existing strategies. Often we mistake being successful with requiring who we are and what we do being the 'best', with 'best' being a euphemism for 'perfect'.

However, it is often the bid to be perfect that creates a vision of an unobtainable goal, limiting our success. Focusing instead on being more successful allows for even small achievements to count, each of which, when combined with other small gains, may serve to move us forward exponentially.

Making a conscious effort to be perfect at everything we do can serve to delay, if not deter, us from achieving. The ideal of perfect is a near impossible standard to meet, considering we will almost always believe that we could have given or done more, if allotted more time, money, support, resources, education, etc. Who wouldn't agree that they couldn't have done 1% more?

That 1% is enough to keep you from earning the Perfect title! It's enough to label your accomplishments 'less than perfect', if only to yourself. Many will find that they hesitate to take action if they believe their first efforts will likely fall short of that perfect mark. Thus they have lost before they start. Not trying prevents them from learning and developing new skills, from moving forward through achieving even small wins and successes.

How many times have you seen someone receive accolades for a project that you felt fell short of your standards? Not perfect by your definition but good enough to gain them credit and recognition. It essence it was 'just right'. Take a moment to think about what 'just right' brought them...

  • Likely the same recognition, rewards and reputation boost that you received from your last 'perfect' project
  • Less time spent on the completion of the assignment that they were then able to spend on completing other projects, or to focus on themselves, their family, their friends
  • Less stress, given they were not agonizing over the need to be perfect or to having to hand in something they felt was less than perfect
  • They felt good about what they accomplished and were able to celebrate its 'successful' completion rather than stressing over the elements they couldn't get to due to budget or time constraints
In essence, letting go of the need for perfect frees you mentally, physically and emotionally, enabling you to accomplish more, to be and feel more successful. Consider the following tips to help you with your next project.
  • Take a look at the goals and milestones you have established and define levels of performance. If you have perfectionist tendencies you likely have already identified the 'ideal' for each milestone.  Now add to it defined performance levels that aren't perfect but that are sufficient to meet the needs and expectations of others.  In essence, create a vision of the 'just rights', the 'good enoughs'.  Establishing this level up front gives you a clear and okay fallback position for when life intervenes and prevents 'perfect' from happening.  Setting those levels upfront gives you the permission to use them. Creating them after the fact will always leave you feeling like you failed.
  • Try using someone else's yardstick instead of your own to help you gain perspective on what measures others establish. The insights from others may help you to establish your just right/good enough mark.If you find you are uncomfortable with a 'just right' goal that someone else establishes then use it as a minimum level of achievement and set levels of performance in staged levels of achievement beyond this point.  These additional levels then become your 'just right plus 10%', your 'just right plus 20%'.  You might then discover that you can feel pretty good at letting go of a project at 'just right plus 15%', giving you a lot more flexibility than always having to achieve  50% more than everyone else.  What could you do with the gift of time that extra 35% represents?
This isn't settling, it's called being strategic. If putting an additional 35% of effort into something will not net you at least 35% more in gains you are wasting your effort. Your time and effort are not limitless commodities. Learning to assign your efforts and time appropriately is what effective time management and, ultimately, your success is dependent upon.  

Goldilocks knew more than simple break and enter techniques! She knew that recognising when something was 'just right' was a form of perfectionism all its own!

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