Two Words for Freedom


Mark Householder discusses judging performance and evaluating results.

Leaders live in the world of evaluating and judging performance and results. They consistently ask questions such as, “How did I do?” and “How can we get better?”  I have found that performance evaluation usually runs in two lanes, and two lanes only. Great or horrible. Success or failure. Win or lose. Good or bad. You get the point.

Instead of having two lanes in which to frame performance and results, let me propose five lanes to lift us out of the binary trap (and I am assuming skill, competence and good character, etc., are all operating here):

  1. Perfect – this is when everything is executed in flawless fashion according to plan. Desired results are hit, if not surpassed, and everyone is happy. Wouldn’t it be great if everything we attempted turned out this way?
  2. Excellent – this is good, but there is room for improvement. Nobody loses his or her job here!
  3. Good enough – OK, now we get into the lane where most of us start to struggle. The job gets done, but there are clear improvements to make, and adjustments are necessary. For most leaders, the “good enough” lane is a necessary category as other factors are taken into consideration.
  4. Challenged – Sometimes hard work does not yield good results. Our best efforts often fall just north of “failure.” This is not the end of the day, but things are not good either.
  5. Failure – Nobody loves to land here, but at times it is reality. We fail. And great things can come out of failure when there is a healthy evaluation and adjustment.

I have found two words that bring good perspective and hope to me when my best efforts do not yield the best results – OH WELL!

Oh well” helps me resign (As a perfectionist, I admit my big struggle to resign!) to the reality that the world is broken, people are imperfect, and things can get better. Getting connected with those realities helps me to sleep better at night.

How many lanes do you have?

Blog content modified from the Leadership Coaching Program led by John Townsend.

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