I haven’t met anyone yet who has “fielded the ball” in business without committing a number of errors over their lifetime, and there is a good reason why—it’s impossible.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be perfect; it just means you’re going to have your share of mishandled ground balls or throws to first base. There are just too many things that are likely to work against you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out to play shortstop, or that you should hang onto the ball for fear of launching it over the first baseman’s head.
Hustle to the ball. Attempt the throw. It’s the only way you’ll perfect your game and keep your competitors from advancing.
I see it all the time in business where someone prevents themselves from achieving their ultimate success because they are afraid of making a mistake. They’ll convince themselves they are only good at one particular core skill—that one thing they went to school for—and that everything else is for somebody else. They don’t like public speaking. They don’t like selling their organization. They just like being what they are today. Now before you say, “John, what’s wrong with that?” let me offer the following.
As leaders, pushing yourself to do something with which you are uncomfortable is a must. Not only will it help you personally grow, but it will be a great demonstration to your team members that they should do the same.
Conversely, setting the example to be risk-averse and not even try only sets a reserved tone for your team that will then be perpetuated by others. Everyone’s learning and development will be stunted, and the generations of colleagues that follow are likely to become even more reluctant to try.
When I counsel others who have reservations about their abilities, I often share two principles from John Maxwell’s book, Talent is Never Enough. The first is Belief Lifts Your Talent and the second is Initiative Activates Your Talent.
Maxwell said if we believe we have greater talent than that which we originally want to give ourselves credit for, we will absolutely demonstrate that greater level of talent in our actions.
A simple example is the fear individuals have walking into a roomful of strangers at a networking reception with the hope of walking out with a couple of new contacts and possibly some new friends. Instead of breaking into a cold sweat the next time you’re about to go into the room, tell yourself with confidence that you have great value to bring those with whom you’ll meet. Then, as soon as you walk through the door, make it a point to introduce yourself to the first people you run into and start the conversation. You will be guaranteed a successful evening.
In the end, it’s okay to want only perfection in the game of business, but don’t let the fear of imperfection stop you from playing. Said differently—don’t hang onto the ball.
About the Author
John Turgeon is a Partner with CohnReznick and Managing Director of CohnReznick’s Affiliated Companies, which includes CohnReznick Benefits Consultants, CohnReznick Wealth Management, CohnReznick Real Estate, and CohnReznick UIC Consultants.