I keep thinking about perfection. What exactly is it and who’s the judge?
Bosses always advise: Give 100% to your job. If I give 100 percent to my job that means that I don’t give any percentage to anything else: research, lunch, in-the-hall conversation, day dreaming, etc. I know that they mean to show up and be at work, not on Facebook, not on the phone with friends, not lollygagging around my desk; I understand, but I doubt it actually works.
If I give 100 percent to my training in the morning then I’m exhausted by lunch and I have four hours of afternoon training. If I give 87 percent early on, then I have that extra 13 percent to latch onto for the afternoon. I don’t know anyone who actually gives 100 percent to anything or anyone; sleep maybe. Atheletes might strive for 100 percent at their sport – the gold medal winners, the winners of the tournaments, but they too have 75 percent “play” days. (Read Open, by Andre Agassi.)
Do you give 100 percent of yourself to your job? Family? Community activity? Leisure time? We are deluged with activities that take our mind in various directions. We can read books, listen to music, play games on the computer, write endless drivel on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – I drivel every so often – talk on the phone on non-work-related topics…the list goes on. But when we have to focus on the project, proposal, PowerPoint or point-at-hand, then yes, I know I give 100 percent, or so it seems. I still don’t know what 100 percent looks like!
My mind wonders. I’m of the school that all adults are ADD. We have too much going on in our lives to focus for more than seven minutes at a time. Even when I’m writing, I’m stopping to check spelling, grammar, typos, etc. We used to have an attention span of :20, now, thanks to television, text messaging, and iPhones or Pods, it’s seven. It could even be less as of Dec. 2, 2009. When we’re driving to/from work; when we’re writing briefs, proposals, grants, letters or memos; when we’re sitting in staff meetings and half listening to others drone on about this that and the other, we span our attention to some of the other aspects of our day: What’s for dinner? Did I follow-up with the client? What does Susie need for Christmas? or just plain day dreaming. We don’t listen 100 percent.
My 100 percent file seems to dwindle when I’m feeling less self-confident. I don’t give my all to my writing, my marketing, my creativity or my habits; I just go through the day with a list that I get to check off: blog – check, newsletter – check, phone call to x,y, z – check, take out something for dinner – check, do something for your business – not checked – yet! And you? How many items have you checked off today that you know you completed – 100 percent? What have you achieved so far this week – it’s Wednesday? Have you given your all, given 100 percent to yourself? Your family? Your project(s)? It’s okay, if the answer is “no.” You are not alone.
My energy level tells me what percentage of me shows up. I’m usually high energy, and sometimes that high, isn’t as high as yesterday. But, I also know that my “lows” are some people’s “highs.” I can gear up for a training or speech or interview, and I can gear up for a writing exercise only when I know it’s advantageous for others as well as me. Does this sound familiar?
Give at least 87 percent today to three projects on your list. No one is going to challenge you that you didn’t give 90, 95, 98 percent; no one’s actually counting. Those counters who do tap you on the shoulder and say, “You need to give more to your job,” only notice when you give 70 percent or less. Rise above it; give more today than yesterday, and then tomorrow the same. One day, who knows, a 100 percent effort may truly be within reach.
Life is not a math test. That 100, that gold star, that A+ you got in school doesn’t resonate in the working, living, loving world. We can only give what and whom we commit to. Give more today. I challenge you. It’ll be well worth the effort.
Have a great 100-percent Wednesday.