Byron's Babbles

Getting Wound Around The Axle

Posted in DTK, Leadership, Leadership Development, Metaphors, Mindset Mondays by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 24, 2020

“Learn to Let Go” was the title of Chapter 13 of Mindset Mondays With DTK, by David Taylor-Klaus. Yesterday’s mindset adjustment was about the fact that everything is not always going to go perfect. It also dealt with something I talk about a lot – you have to be bad at something before you can get good at it. DTK taught us that “done” beats “perfect” (p. 117). This is so true, because most perfectionists I know, or have known, have trouble getting things done.

The metaphor used was getting so caught up in every little thing was like your energy getting wound around an axle. As a farm kid, I completely understand this metaphor from experience of twine, wire, hay bale wrap, or any number of items getting wrapped up in an axle, manure spreader beater, mower blade, et cetera. DTK told us, “When you let go of your white-knuckled attachment to something, you have an open hand, an opportunity to pick up something more valuable” (p. 117). This could also be compared to sunk cost fallacy where we continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money, human capital, effort, et cetera).

There is a great acronym referred to in chapter 13: “GEMO (Good enough, move on)” (p. 116). To me this means knowing when good is good enough, balanced with the critical thinking to determine when and where to invest in better than good. Perfection is an individual ideal. Something that looks perfect to me may not (and probably won’t) look perfect to you and vise versa. Have you ever noticed that a perfectionist can suck every bit of life out of a room where ideation is trying to happen? They are looking for, or think they have found the absolute best solution when the goal is to explore as many options as possible.

Conversely, there was the perfectionist and painter who’s name you will recognize, Claude Monet, who said, ““My life has been nothing but a failure.” He actually destroyed many, would be masterpiece paintings, because he didn’t believe they were perfect. Being a perfectionist is an impossible thing to live up to. A perfectionist’s high bar is a moving target. The better a perfectionist does, the better he or she is supposed to perform. Perfectionism never gives them a break.

Make no mistake, this GEMO deal is not about being mediocre; it is how we keep from continued fiddling (fine-tuning) or getting stuck not seeing the forest for all the trees. We don’t want to let ourselves get so involved that little details or one little thing not going perfect keeps us from living out our dreams or a dream project.


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