Jason Calacanis recently wrote an editorial called “The Age of Excellence” and he raises a lot of good points. His visual of a ratings gun and it’s effect on the future of business is compelling. Those of us who are fans also know Jason can be a little over the top, and he is with his passion for excellence. I don’t take issue with the goal of excellence. It’s important, however, to realize what excellent isn’t, and to know we can’t be great at everything.
Excellence is Not Perfection
The folly of perfection was planted as an idea in my first economics course. If 90% is an A, stop when you reach 90%. Shooting for 100% is wasted effort. It has taken me far too long to recognize the significance of this. I held the ideal of perfection for too long with too high a cost. This is a nuance that I think is lost in Jason’s appeal for excellence.
If you’re working toward perfection, you’re working too much on something that has exceeded its value. As Jason says, good will not cut it in today’s environment. But there’s a big gap between good and perfect and the sweet spot for business – what Jason calls excellence – I suggest is in the realm of good enough.
Good Is Not Good Enough
Jason uses Steve Jobs and Apple as an example of achieving excellence with their products. But notice that Apple often does not deliver more than what those products need to be. Remember how lacking version one of the iPad was? Front and back facing camera? No. USB port? No. Printing options?!? NO! Printing is a given, right? Wrong.
We forget all that after the fact. At that moment in time, the iPad was good enough. It wasn’t perfect, yet, it changed the world.
Be Great Where You Can
We’re all in awe of Einstein’s brilliance, but he was a horrible father. LeBron James is letting his three-point game go so he can focus on his inside game. “Good at less, great at more.” Great is a very limited commodity and requires a lot of time and energy to get there. Find the thing(s) you can be great at and give it the necessary effort. There’s just not enough time for you to be all things.
Jason acknowledged that he’s letting some things go, but it was such a passing comment that it’s easy to miss. As the leader, he’s the champion of excellence. That doesn’t mean he is excellent at everything. And in this Age of Excellence, we can’t afford the misstep of focusing too much effort and energy where we shouldn’t.
That’s why startups and companies are teams. One person won’t be good at all things. You’ll see this message amplified in the blockbuster that opened today. “Avengers assemble!” shows that even superheroes have their limits and perform better as a team.
- The Age of Excellence (launch.co)