Excellence Does Not Equal Perfection

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about excellence versus perfection.

Have you ever had such a good experience that you walked away incredibly impressed with the business, company or organization?

We all walk away from these types of experiences for the better.

Excellence is a great goal to strive towards.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” – Colossians 3:23

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might;” – Ecclesiastes 9:10a

Not long ago I was buying a few groceries in my favorite grocery store. One of the items I buy regularly was no longer on the shelf. It wasn’t simply out of stock. There was no longer a shelf label or place for it. One of the reasons I love this store is their attention to excellence and customer service. There is almost always an employee on every other aisle that will ask you if you need any help. The employee that happened to be on this aisle was the manager. I asked him about it and was informed they had changed some products the previous week and he offered to check the marked-down table up front for the item. When he couldn’t find it, he offered to order it for me. Now I’m not sure if they will be able to order it again or if the company is no longer making it, but this store went out of the way to help me.

Was it perfect? No. They did not have the product I wanted and may not be able to get it again.

Did the store strive for excellence in their interaction with me the customer? Absolutely.

There is a fine line between excellence and perfection. One that all too often becomes blurred.

There is a difference in striving for excellence and expecting perfection.

I’m a recovering perfectionist. It’s easy for me to slip into that mindset of wanting things to be perfect. I’ve learned over the years how stifling perfectionism can be though. I am constantly reminding myself to give grace when things do not go perfectly. I constantly remind myself that doing things to the best of my ability and with excellence does not equal perfection. And that’s okay. It’s not something I always do well, but I am trying and giving myself grace when I fail.

Striving for excellence is a good thing. As leaders we should encourage excellence in all we and our teams do. But expecting, even demanding, perfection slams the door on grace. It stifles growth.

Demanding perfection cultivates fear. It ignores the truth that we are all imperfect creatures, and it creates a hopelessness that what we are doing is futile. We must encourage those we lead and help them discover their potential with grace while aiming for excellence.