Demand less than perfect

The best ever only managed 34-36%.

That’s not a momentous amount. 40% is basically unheard of.

Life is like a batting average. No matter how good or skilled or lucky we are, we’re bound to miss a lot of the pitches that come our way.

When a batter steps up to the plate he has a 30% chance of a success. Or a 70% chance of failure depending on your disposition. Defeat, misses and errors are a foregone conclusion.

I read somewhere (it may have been in Seeking Wisdom about former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. His turnaround of Disney in the 80’s was being used to demonstrate a point:

As a CEO, if 50% of the decisions you make turn out to be good ones, you’re doing okay.

36%. 50%. These numbers indicate success?

Another example. When someone is on a new diet or workout program, you can guarantee their failure by doing one thing:

Demand 100% adherence to the new plan.

Pushing for perfection ensures we don’t get it.

It would be better to ask for 85% adherence. It’s manageable. Realistic.

By asking for less than perfect we can get closer to actual perfection.

Sometimes I’m too hard on myself. I demand so much. I’m surrounded by images of people who attack life with the force of the German blitzkrieg. So I think that I must live up to that standard.

But I forget. I forget that I’m young. I have decades to do my work and better myself. Screaming “Now! Now! Now!” doesn’t help. By driving hard in the present I risk my longevity.

But when you have decades to progress, immediate progress isn’t what matters. Consistency, longevity and awareness are more important.

A friend asked me the other week, “do you have a cut-off point every day? A point where you stop working?”

Yes, of course. I could keep on into the early hours of the night. I could do it tomorrow. Maybe the day after. After a week I’d be on the edge. After a month I’d be at breaking point. I couldn’t do it for a year.

To do something every day for decades you have to always act with the long view in mind.

It’s the same in strength training. I could push on even though my shoulder is in pain. But what’s the point? A day’s stubbornness could cost me a lot more down the line.

Next time you feel that you’re sinking under the pressure, take the long view. Frame your decisions with this rule of thumb:

Consistency and longevity trump immediate results.

Life is long. Be patient. You’ve got decades.

And you don’t have to be perfect.