Recently I picked up a great line from one of our customers. At the resolution phase of a warranty repair, he told me, “Ben, ain’t no such thing as perfect parts or perfect people.” This stuck with me and I’ve even parroted it a few times since. I understand this phrase’s meaning to be: we don’t live in a perfect world, so keep that in mind, be reasonable and solve the problems as they arise. I find this simple message extremely helpful to keep things in perspective.
Last night on my drive home I heard something that helps tie this together and set an action plan for times we find ourselves to be less than perfect. Listening to a Cubs baseball broadcast, color commentator and former player Ron Kumar told a story about himself and Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval; it went something like this:
During a recent game, the Cubs and Giants went into extra innings. In the 10th inning, Sandoval went to bat with the bases loaded and one out and produced a weak ground ball that resulted in an inning-ending double play. Later in the 13th inning, Sandoval got another opportunity and hit a game-winning walk-off homerun. Sandoval was quoted: “After my at-bat in the 10th, I said to myself, you are better than that, you need to demonstrate that.”
Kumar added some personal experience to his recounting of this story: “Yeah, sometimes you’re in the major leagues, but occasionally have to check yourself, go into the dugout, splash some water on your face, and remind yourself what you are capable of…you need to refocus and hold yourself accountable to the level of play that got you there.”
Used in conjunction, these two snippets combine for a powerful recipe of self-awareness, accountability, consistency, and continuous improvement. Simply put, none of us operate at our best at all times. To do so as often as possible, we need to establish and measure ourselves against standards, and be prepared to splash some water on our faces (or whatever you find helps you refocus and reset) and step our game back up.
Baseball and sports, in general, lend themselves well to analogy. This principle strikes me as universally applicable. No perfect parts or people. Up until he was recently passed by Manning, Brady, and Brees, Brett Favre held the all-time NFL records for both passing touchdowns and interceptions thrown. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Wins only exist with a potential for loss. Everyone gets a trophy for showing up appears to be falling out of favor at youth sports (thankfully!).
Think about the most recent time you fell well short of your company’s, family’s, or personal standards. Allow yourself to get very uncomfortable feeling those emotions of embarrassment, shame, irresponsibility, whatever form that upset takes and use it to motivate yourself to be better.
Easy wins and successes are not memorable and have little to no ongoing value. Failures and missteps can be extremely valuable and motivating. Don’t beat yourself up, simply recognize we will all be faced with our own inferior performance at times, and it is important we have a plan in place to identify when this happens and get ourselves back in the win column as fast and as often as possible.