Perfection is Great, Stop Trying to Achieve It and Let Mistakes Happen

I talked about hunting and metrics in my last blog and stressed the importance calibrating your metrics correctly. I have also drifted somewhat away from one of my central ideals promoted by this blog. Namely, as a manager of people your primary focus should be hiring the best people possible and then clearing the way for them to be who they are, essentially getting out of their way. Today I’m going to circle around and bring these ideals together.

During my hunting trip I felt I should hit everything I shoot at, not out of vanity but because I have trained to hit flying birds for years via clay sports. When I fell far short of that goal in a real world situation it took a complete retooling from my friends to put my metrics in perspective. I strived to hit every bird in my practice rounds, and had achieved that goal on several occasions. In practice, perfection is an ideal goal. Hone your skills to be as sharp as possible and prepare yourself for as many real world situations as possible. This is what school is for. Be prepared to completely re-tool your metrics when you are out of the practice sessions and into life.

In the real world, stop trying to be perfect and start finding the places where best efforts make a big difference. When I stopped worrying about my leads (the distance between what I was shooting at when the game would get there) and started realizing I was in great country with friends, my gun swing relaxed and I started hitting birds. In managing people realize the bigger goals of your department and the company as a whole and encourage every member of your team towards those goals. Clearing the way for them to be focused on the larger tasks should be your goal and will be the greatest benefit to your team.

You should also expect mistakes along the way, both yours and your teams. Never let your team put you in a bad position, and if they do look at yourself first for not being clear. Furthermore never let your team be put in a bad position by not assisting them when mistakes happen. Trust is critical in this relationship, if you not fostering it then your loosing it. Foster it by being honest and following through on what you promise, none of which requires perfection but does depend you being genuine.

My hunting team consisted of friends and some Brittany Spaniels that are amazing to work with. Great at finding birds the dogs were the perfect partners, giving us a direction and greatly improving the probability of a successful hunt. Each of the dogs new exactly what the overall idea of the day was and worked to ensure we were all successful. We cleared their way by getting them in the right country, getting them around obstacles (fences, etc) and helping when they got hurt (sore pads, falls, cuts, all of which happened).

The friends helped in all the other way, being much more experienced hunters than I am. Hunting locations, tips, and proper preparation were all ensured and reinforced by this group, essentially clearing the way for me to be my best. On top of helping me succeed, the friendship and great experiences ensure that I want to continue returning to “work” and hunt with this group as often as possible.

With all the preparation, proper team placement and usage, investment and training my success rate was very low for my expectations, which bordered around perfection. When I realized myself that the overall goal really was learning a new sport and loving what I was doing, success came easy. It should be this effortless for the people your managing as well.