80% = 100%

Camp Atterbury, IN-- This guy is REALLY into chasing perfection.  (But, while he’s chasing perfection, no one can play on the lawn.) Don’t be THAT guy. (Photo: Getty Images)
Camp Atterbury, IN–
This guy is REALLY into chasing perfection.
(But, while he’s chasing perfection, no one can play on the lawn.)
Don’t be THAT guy.
(Photo: Getty Images)

I’m about to make a controversial statement (coming from a military officer.) Get ready … here it is: I DON’T strive for “perfection.”

I’ll say it again: I … DO … NOT … STRIVE … FOR …“PERFECTION.” Let me explain …

I didn’t say that I don’t strive to do a good job to the best of my ability. Notice I didn’t say that I would not dedicate myself to the task at hand. But “perfect” implies that there are no “imperfections.” And, trust me, if you give someone an opportunity, they WILL FIND imperfections in anything you claim to be “perfect.”

Some people are so obsessed with creating something perfect that they fail to even create anything at all. They want everything to be “just right,” so, they keep making changes, chasing “perfection.” Meanwhile, as the clock keeps ticking, they are losing out on the opportunity to enjoy what they’ve created, or they’ve missed the deadline to provide it to someone else.

Let’s say I am homeless and starving, living out on the street. I swallow my pride and I ask someone to give me food. I will gladly take the hamburger from the passerby NOW, rather than continue to go hungry while hoping Wolgang Puck is gonna fall out of the sky and make me the “perfect” beef wellington.

Likewise, in life (and especially in the military,) sometimes there is no opportunity for things to be “perfect.” When faced with adversity, sometimes you’ve got to provide the 80-percent solution. That doesn’t mean that you don’t do your best … because I do believe that you should.

However, if confronted with a challenge that has a finite result (i.e., either you succeed or you don’t,) I’ve learned that sometimes success is measured simply by completing the task at hand to the best of your ability within the constraints you’ve been given. The burger I have in my hand now is much better than the beef wellington I never received. (Or, as my mother used to say: “A bird in the hand beats two in the bush.”)

In relation to my time in the ‘stan, I know our efforts will not always be perfect for the people we help. More importantly, I know I won’t always have time to make them perfect. You can bet I will give it 100 percent, even if that 100 % is only 80.

darricklee Written by: