We live in a society that has adopted the philosophy of “Looking out for number one”. Either we are failures or we are Rulers of the Universe. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between. This belief makes it hard for the majority of us because we are not failures and there is only one Ruler of the Universe (and it’s neither you nor I). Adopting this attitude (even unconsciously) drives extremely bad, damaging, behaviors.

I have been coaching people on career, business and life in general for more than 15 years and one common thread I have seen is the fear of not being good enough. Let me give a couple of examples.

The Perfect Report

Sam has to turn in his monthly sales report to his boss, but is always late. Why? He wants to insure it is perfect so he goes over and over the report. He wears his subordinates out questioning them about each and every line item. His team dreads the report because Sam makes it stressful on everyone around him. Sam does not want to be seen in a poor light with his boss and perceives that if there is any kind of error  that his reputation is on the line.

The Perfect Boss

Sue is a new Director in Supply Chain Management. While she has more than 10 years of experience, this is a new company, new people and new leadership. Where Sue came from everyone looked up to her as the expert, but now she is in a place where there is much to learn. Not wanting to be perceived as ignorant she doesn’t ask a lot of questions of her new team. Instead Sue lets everyone know how things were at her old job and insist on making everything like it was where she came from.


This is a question I often propose to clients, especially those who fall on the side of perfectionism. If we can’t define “good enough” then there is a chance nothing will ever get done. If “good enough” is not known, then we are trying to grab the wind. If we are stuck on being perfect then our minds are closed to new ideas and innovative ways of doing things, because we like the comfort of being Ruler…The Expert…Perfect!

The truth of the matter is that no one is perfect and the best leaders not only accept this truth, but are transparent about it as well. Just because the report has a type-o or if the percentage of last week’s sales was up  33.5%  and not 33% does not make you a failure. And on the flip side, just because you get all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, does not make you Ruler of the Universe.

 What to Do?

There are a few things that can set up a comfortable “good enough” check and balance that supports professionalism, but discourages over processing.

  • ESTABLISH PROOF-READERS: For reports/presentations delegate those on your staff who can be another set of eyes on the work. This is a great check and balance to gives confidence to your work.


  • SET LIMIT ON NUMBER OF PROOFS: Time is wasted going over and over and over a report/presentation. Two looks at the final draft from your proof reader and two from you is a good rule and thumb. Set a limit then pull the trigger.


  • IDEA COLLECTION BOARD: Break out of your comfortableness with “I’m the expert” mentality by setting up an Idea Board. Ask your team to put ideas on post-it’s on the board on one side, then on the other list employee ideas that have been implemented. This motivates employees, stirs creativity, builds trust and helps break the “I must be perfect and therefore know it all” chains.


What are some of your ideas?

Coach Robert



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