Chapter 7: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good!

Sometimes when we must make hard decisions, we wait, and wait, and wait.  We keep asking for more data.  Are we sure I have all the facts I need to make the “right” decision?  This phenomenon is also known as paralysis by analysis.

No one wants to consciously make a mistake.  Or be accused of sloppy thinking and rushed judgements.  And I would never suggest that you take the easy way out and wing it.  But this is a cost to indecision due to idea that you need to be perfect, every time.

Just for the record, no one is!  Using a sports analogy, if a hitter bats .333, very likely they would be in the competition for the batting title, or most valuable player.  If you hit that for your career, you might even make the Hall of Fame.  But that means you made outs two out of every three times you went to bat!

Someone once taught be the 80-20 rule.  If you think you have 80% of the information you THINK you need to make a decision, that should be enough to get you to move.  Delaying decisions actually increases the risk that you will miss an opportunity or get it wrong.

You know that in reality, you NEVER get all the information or data you want.  There are very few cut and dried, black and white, stark choices when it comes to decisions.  There are always shades of gray, right and wrong.

But if you want to lead, or grow in your job, you have to learn to be confident in your abilities.  And be willing to admit when you are wrong and move on from there.

I think we learn more from the errors we have made that the times we hit it perfectly.  Scientists say the more fails, the more successes.

I guess the point of all of this is you have to try!  If you are making decisions for the right professional reasons, and you have the best interest of your workplace in the forefront of what you are doing, then really, how far off from a good call can you be?

So work on that “I need to be perfect” thing.  It’s impossible to meet and debilitating and stressful to live with.

Good is good, not bad!

Meet the Author
Joe Stout is the former Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. In that capacity, Joe oversaw an operating budget of $55 million and a capital budget of $250 million. He supervised a staff of more than 340 annual employees, over 1,000 summer staff, and the operation of more than 44 parks encompassing over 18,000 acres of parkland. Read more about Joe >