Forget Perfect

We are not perfect. I am not perfect, you are not perfect and those around us are not perfect. And we all know that. Yet we all forget it too.

For several years, I coached youth basketball. It was common early in the season to have a player, during a time-out, complain about the referees.

“Coach, that was a bad call. I didn’t foul him.”

“Coach, I’m getting fouled and the ref never calls it.”

My way to address this was simple and always the same. I would say,

“You know, he may have missed some calls. But I am sure you have not played a perfect game and I know I’ve not coached a perfect game. In fact, I’m guessing we’ve made more mistakes than the ref. You focus on improving your game and if there is a problem with the officials, let me handle it.”

Our fear of failure or a focus on perfectionism can be like the referee at our basketball games: A part of the game we “play through” as we focus on doing our best and following our game plan… or a little part of the game that we decide to focus on instead of ourselves.

Magnification, one of the classic cognitive distortions, is an obstacle to clear reasoning and clear communication. In other words, letting the minor things become the main focus. This type of thinking creates problems and limits our consideration of real solutions.

The result is that the fear of failure and the urge for perfection becomes a huge obstacle to success. And yes, an obstacle to success of great communication. The obstacle can seem so big that many of us do not even attempt success, giving up before even starting.

In sports, blaming the referee can be a common practice of the losing team. In life, I see many people blame their troubles on everyone but themselves. What a shame and what a waste.

As you work to communicate better, play your game to be the best you can be. Create success so strong even the referee (or your fears or perfectionism) cannot stop you.

Like referees, fears and perfectionism can control our world or simply be a known factor we accept and manage with balance and awareness.

Which will you focus on? Your mental referee or your more important plans and goals?


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.