The idea of perfection is a tricky one for leaders especially. Leaders want to strive for perfection but not at all costs. There comes a point where goal of perfection can stand in the way of progress. Rather than perfection, I’d suggest great leaders recognize the pursuit of excellence.

And that’s worth noting, the pursuit of excellence and perfection are different things. The difference lies in the focus. Perfection focuses on how things look and what others see. Excellence focuses on why things look a certain way or why a task is done. You’ve heard me talk many times before about starting with why. Even in this we should recognize striving for excellence comes before striving for perfection.

Waiting for perfection before releasing (in the case of software), or not accepting anything other than perfection (in general) is a dangerous mindset. Great leaders recognize the constant pull of perfection but rather focus on the pursuit of excellence instead. Great leaders recognize pursuing excellence ignites the soul while pursuing perfection can destroy the spirit.

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” – Harriet Braiker