Success Just Means We Learned Well

There is only learning…and failure to learn. Success just means we learned well. 

~ Ellie Gates | Corporate Mustang

by Pete Ferguson

We often become consumed over the quest for “perfection.”

As I understand it, Six Sigma has generated millions of dollars in pursuit of chasing perfection to a margin of error less than .1 of a single percent.

The trouble is, my observations reveal three undesired consequences of this laser-beamed approach:

  1. In pursuit of chasing imperfection of an existing product or process, innovation on new products suffers
  2. People become consumed with the process of the process (achieving a black belt for example) – rather than the product to be delivered to the customer
  3. Analysis paralysis sets in – instead of taking action, too much time and effort is expended analyzing potential action

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” ~ Win Borden

I’m sure the Six Sigmaites will come after me with a vengeance. I’m sure I’ll survive. Some of the companies I know who embrace Six Sigma may not, however.

Life is messy and nature is abundant with examples that perfection is not a destination, it is a journey.

For example, if we look at how we are as humans and “perfection,” one might argue a newborn is perfect, unaltered, unbiased, pure. But unfortunately, a newborn also cannot speak, walk, feed itself, or do much of anything but lie around and wait for others to provide care.

Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection.
~ Khalil Gibran

Having an “A” in high school was great for getting into college and hopefully in getting scholarships. But today that “A” isn’t going to do much for you unless you are applying what you learned.

There are PhD’s who are unemployed. There are college dropouts who founded FaceBook, Apple, Microsoft, and many other iconic companies which have created jobs for hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of other college graduates.

What my friend Ellie Gates was referencing in the opening quote is her experience in India where she is rolling out a new performance management system for her company.

We are so used to grading our success. We spend years in school achieving and being graded on our performance. We spend years competing against others to get the best grades, the best job, and vying for bigger responsibilities and our leader’s favor. Some of us along the way focus more on the outcome versus the great learning we have on the way. ~ Ellie Gates 

With a perfection attitude, we can become too obsessed with titles and comparisons instead of being excited by the process of learning, growing, failing, and succeeding.

I sat for many years thinking “I should really start a blog, and a podcast, and a coaching business …”

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
~ Aristotle

When I applied the principle of Lift Where You Stand and started writing it took hours to produce 500 words. Hours more to edit. It was painful, yet rewarding. And 182 posts later, I take about 30 minutes to do the same thing. I will start a podcast at some point, but in writing I’ve become more focused on my goals and have really enjoyed the process.

I’ve seen too many sit idle as they discuss how things ought to be. Paralyzed by the notion that they could make a mistake, they choose to take no action. Years later, they are still discontent and unhappy. Meanwhile another who started off horribly has since made perfect something in their life.

What’s holding you back from taking action today?

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2 thoughts on “Success Just Means We Learned Well

  1. Pingback: Do Your Best | learnactshare

  2. Pingback: Six Sigma ‘killed’ innovation in 3M | World Of Innovations

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