Dear Mr. Perfectionism,
When I first hired you more than twenty years ago I thought I’d made a brilliant move. You seemed like the perfect choice: A person who hates making mistakes and works as hard as he can to avoid them. It turns out I was mistaken. Hiring you was one of the worst decisions I ever made. Luckily, as of today I no longer have to live with that mistake. Mr. Perfectionism: You’re fired.
The trouble with you is that your perfectionist attitudes and actions were never really about heightened performance; you were never really concerned with the health of this business. Rather, what you were worried about was how people perceived you. When I fired your friend Mr. Insecurity the other day, I told him something very similar. You are both so wrapped up in, and dependent upon, the perceptions of others for self-worth that you will sacrifice anything to earn their approval. In your case, you were ever-prepared to sacrifice the process for the result. You didn’t care how much suffering you inflicted on this company or its clients in a given business endeavor as long as it resulted in a ‘win’ for you. You thought these ‘wins’ made you valuable and worthy in the eyes of those around you, but what you failed to grasp was that most people are at least as concerned with the process as they are with the result. Furthermore, your constant need for perfection in your thoughts, words, and actions actually made you far less effective in your work than many of your peers. Your obsession with detail correctness in every aspect of your life made you slow and inefficient. You were afraid to take risks because of the possibility of failure. Unfortunately that translated into fewer promotion opportunities for you.
You see, Mr. Perfectionism, life really is a journey; it’s not just a destination. I know how cliché that sounds, but it’s true. The moments we live out on a day-to-day basis are at least as important as the goals we work towards, maybe even more so. When your life draws to a close I suspect you’ll be less concerned with what you did with your life, and far more concerned with how you lived it.
Consider the life of Jesus Christ, the man I am replacing you with. According to your perfectionist standards Jesus’ life was a disaster: Tried and convicted as a criminal, He was beaten and crucified. If life is judged by outcomes alone, Mr. Perfectionist, Jesus’ life was a complete failure. However, it’s the way Jesus lived His life that is important: He was completely obedient to His Father in everything He did; throughout His day-to-day life Jesus never sinned; He was always as concerned about how He reached the end of His life as He was about the end result itself. And for this, a life perfectly lived, Jesus was raised from the dead. That is the kind of lasting and winning attitude I want to define this company!
Goodbye, Mr. Perfectionism. I hope you can learn to live at peace with failure and the disappointment and disapproval of others. It is the only way to truly live.