Not perfect: Just a 'perfect effort' every day

  • Published
  • By Dino Bonaldo
  • 721st Civil Engineer Squadron director
During a hard-fought game, the team came back to the huddle, some more bruised than others, to decide on the next play. The fourth down play went to our solid running back and he, with the support from the entire offensive team, scored the touchdown.

Later, we found out he had broken three ribs during the previous play and didn't tell anyone. He was a part of the team and continued to participate. In life, as in sports, we are all part of a team. As a part of a team, you have a daily choice of merely being a bystander or participating with a "perfect effort."

Whether you stock shelves, stack boxes, deliver mission critical equipment and support, or provide a service in this very challenging customer-centric environment, you must balance difficult and daily demands on the use of your time and resources. Not one of us is perfect. Despite even the most intense and integrated planning and communication efforts, any action worth completing is rarely completed perfectly. But as individuals, we can choose to be the example and give the perfect effort at every opportunity. And even when we do fail, we will fail forward from the additional effort - a purposeful decision! We've made a small gain, even if only in knowledge, a little more progress, and are successful both as individuals and the teams we influence.

Our responsibility as members, managers and leaders of teams is to push forward for those potentially uncomfortable objectives, or stretch goals. It is in this uncomfortable place of pushing to stretch goals that great things happen. A popular best-selling author best illustrates this sentiment.

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers," wrote M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled.

Some might see this "perfect" effort as extra, or non-essential, and therefore not required. This is where you must make a decision. This decision can be seen as one of life's proverbial forks in the road.

Robert Frost's well known poem, The Road Not Taken, published in 1916, is thought-provoking to us all because we instantly recognize our own daily tasks, both literally and figuratively -- two roads, two forks in the road or conflicting decisions to be made. The two differing perspectives, to give the perfect effort or not, are influenced by many external factors, but internally we are free to choose. Even Yogi Berra mysteriously quipped, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Be in the habit of making the decision to make the perfect effort.

In The Road Less Traveled, Peck began with the statement, "Life is difficult." Peck argues that life was never meant to be easy; it is essentially a series of problems which can either be solved or ignored. Having the conscious habit, or discipline, to give the perfect effort every day is essential to successfully handling and managing our daily challenges no matter where we are on our own road.