Being perfect is not about winning 1st place; it’s about knowing you did everything you could–for yourself, for your family, for your friends. Doing what you do is a privilege, not everyone gets to do it, and so you owe it to those around you to do everything you can to win.
That’s the gist of the speech by Billy Bob Thornton’s character in the movie, Friday Night Lights, when it looks like his team will lose the state championship. Everything in the first half went against them. All season the Coach (Thornton) asked for perfection, but now as the team is on the verge of losing their first game, he makes it clear that “perfect” has nothing to do with the scoreboard. It’s about giving it everything they have, about knowing, afterwards, that there wasn’t one more thing they could have done.
In business, it is easy to be good enough—to not go that extra step. And you can still have some success that way. Those that are “good enough” may have talent, they may have advantages and things may work out for them. But in business, as in life, as on the football field, things don’t always go your way. Sometimes you’re good, but the other team (competition) is better. You can’t control everything. You have to give it your all if you’re going to have a chance to succeed over the long haul knowing it may end in failure. And you need to be able to face your challenges with honor and heart even if it looks like you’re not going to succeed.
What happens if you fail? Do you walk away knowing you could have done more? Or did you do the best you could? It sounds clichéd, and it is, but ideas become clichés for a reason; sometimes the cliché is right—you’re going to want to look your friends, colleagues, family in the eye, just like the Coach in Friday Night Lights said, and promise them you won’t let them down.
You might lose, that’s part of life, but you’ll give it everything you’ve got.