Perfection & Grace

This message was inspired by a talk given by Eric McDonald, CEO of DocuTap during a presentation he gave at BRAINSPA 2017. If you’d like to hear his full presentation (trust us, you do) you can check it out here.

As a business leader, you dictate exactly how your team behaves. You set the standards and are responsible for holding your team to them.

How high do you set your standards? Perfection.

What happens when your team doesn’t meet them? Grace.


Setting standards that are anything less than perfection is a mistake. Standards need to be set in an “ideal world” environment. In business, the standards you set are one of the few things that you can control and remain largely unchanged.

Here’s the kicker – you’ll never reach perfection; but you have to shoot for it. The second you lower your standards you send a message to your team that it’s okay to be average. Lowering the standard and achieving it with minimal effort never creates growth or improvement.

So, you set perfect standards and your team fails to meets them. What now?


First and foremost, understand that you are working with people. Flawed, complex, unique, wonderful people. Every single person on your team is completely different. No person should ever be capable of meeting your perfect standards; but every person on your team should be in a constant pursuit of them.

What happens when they fall short?

The questions you need to ask are:

“Was the shortcoming a product of good faith done in pursuit of a perfect (unachieveable) standard?”

“Where is there room for improvement and growth?”

“What leadership does this employee need from me?”

Perfect employees don’t exist. Perfect standards must. Navigating this dichotomy is where you as a business leader need to live and thrive every day.

Press for excellence, give grace.