Veteran Lesson VI: Don't Let Perfect be the Enemy of Good (Ten Veteran Lessons for Every Day)
Striving for excellence does not have to go hand in hand with the debilitating condition of perfectionism. Once, when I worked for the Ole Miss baseball program, our team chaplain, Wes Yeary, asked each of our players what they would do if given “86,400.” One of those who was asked to chime in, a future Major League star and World Series champion, listed off luxury items. Others had similar answers. After a couple minutes, Wes said, “Each of you have the same currency each day – 86,400 seconds. How you decide to spend those seconds impacts what kind of day you’ll have and what kind of impact you’ll make on others.”
The team was floored, and with a new mindset, closed out the regular season on a hot streak that carried deep into the NCAA postseason. Wes knew that time is valuable and wanted to convey to the team that every extra cut in the cage, every moment spent in the film room, and every extra repetition in the gym pays dividends on the road to having a championship program.
Athletes can fall victim to perfectionism. A pitcher focused too much on velocity and not enough on changing speeds and hitting spots endangers his ability to get hitters out and go deep into games. Hitters focused on anything other than consistent, hard contact are more vulnerable to piling up strikeouts and being fooled at the plate. Offensive linemen who forget the snap count or don’t fire off the line because they’re worried about footwork allow the defensive linemen to take a split-second advantage than may stop a play in the backfield.