by Dr. Burl W. Randolph Jr.

Perfection is NOT required to be successful.

I cannot think of one thing in my life that I did perfectly.

I have never been thin (We live in a skinny-obsessed world).

I have never been a straight A student (Close, 3.95/4.0 GPA, and it only took me 40+ years).

I have never had more than a few ‘Likes’ on any post (Like = Success in today’s society).

In nearly 32 years in the Army, I never scored 100 on a Physical Fitness test (295/300).

By all accounts, I have been a dismal failure on the leadership success journey, or have I?

While we have been led to believe that perfection is the destination and the journey, I have never met the ‘Perfect Person.’ So, the question becomes: Is perfection a necessity for successful leadership?

Because I am so imperfect but by some accounts highly successful, I would need to answer No. Perfection in leadership is a fairytale, a myth. I would say that Perfection = Successful Leadership = Fake News.

Yes, I am a Recovering Perfectionist but our group never meets because we cannot agree on the perfect time and place.

Does this sound like you? Is perfectionism ruining your business? Your life? Here are a few techniques I used to achieve success, while striving for perfection in an imperfect world.

  • Set Objectives You are Passionate about Achieving. My major objective in life was to become a Soldier, so I work tirelessly at meeting the requirements. I always had the mental, emotional, and moral capacities, but lacked the physical capabilities. I was never a thin guy trapped in a fat guys body, just a fat guy who liked Twinkies. I do not recall having a twinkie between 1983 and 2014, but I made up for it in 2014! Have you set objectives that you are passionate about achieving? Have you set any objectives?
  • Know Your Limitations, and Break Them. No matter how much I wished, I never became six feet tall. My weight was always a limitation in everything I did in life, and as a Soldier: appearance, fitness, stamina, and selection. Weight was only a limitation, not a deterrent. I broke my limitation several times and held it at bay for over 10 years. Now, it is simply a matter of pride, not an objective. I had other limitations, but merely chose to focus on my weight. Do you know your limitations? Are you willing to break them? Have you ever tried?
  • Engage in a One-Person Competition. I have only been a fierce competitor with one person in my life: Myself. If I can live up to my own expectations, then I can achieve what I set my mind to. General of the Army Omar Bradley said it best: “Always do your very best and the rest will take care of itself.” Are you competing against yourself, or the world? Who’s winning?
  • Maintain Your Faith. Being imperfect is tough, and so is being successful. Steve Harvey said in 2007 that, “Being successful is hard work.” From Platoon Leader of 40, to G2 of 140k in war, some days I just did not feel it. I had to lean on my faith – spiritual, familial, friendships, to get me through those agonizing times, and still do.
  • Embrace Your Imperfections. I had to embrace my imperfections when I forgot my tee shirt for eighth grade gym class and there was only one left to borrow from the cadre. Coach Burgett told the assistant: “Willie don’t need no tee shirt. Give Big Burl a tee shirt.” Big Burl was my new name for the remainder of a loooonnngggg school year, but I capitalized on that in high school when I transformed into: B3 – Big Bad Burl. How can your imperfections work for you?
  • Strive for Potential, not Perfection. Some people have more potential than others, but everyone may be able to achieve their potential. Helping people unlock their potential, and then pursue it was a key element to my success as a leader. Not everyone will follow my path, or take my journey, but may need help in discovering their own. Are you helping employees achieve potential or perfection? Has perfection been achieved in your organization, or discontentment?

With my lack of perfection, and all my imperfections, I managed to become a successful leader. Perfection for successful leadership is fake news and can drive organizations, relationships, and people to destructive ends. How will you achieve success as a leader, without pursuing blind perfection? Are you developing potential versus perfection?

Are you limiting yourself by not asking for help?

How will you achieve success as a leader?

Will you ‘Like’ this post and share it ferociously with others?

2 replies
  1. Karen Smith
    Karen Smith says:

    Nicely written article with many nuggets of wisdom and insights. Training the brain to respond positively to what life brings you is the best way to live, as well as have a solid relationship with yourself and others.

    • Dr. Burl W Randolph Jr
      Dr. Burl W Randolph Jr says:

      Thank you so much Karen for the kind words. Retraining our brains to think in a more positive manner is tough but absolutely necessary for leaders. Because leaders set the pace, tone, and standard for others to emulate, leader self-analysis, development, and actualization is necessary to help others succeed.

      Take care.

      Dr. Burl


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