The Imperfect Winner


Did you ever notice how many winning performances were imperfect performances? While amateurs and aspiring pros work diligently to be perfect in every way, the truth is that the performance of champions is generally NOT perfect.
Take a look at old tapes of golfs U.S. Open Championships, British Opens or The Masters for example. Youll see shots flying all over the course. Youll see missed putts, drives landing off the fairways and approach shots going into bunkers and water.
Look at the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the 2003 playoffs Martin Brodeur, the playoff winning goaltender was far from perfect many times throughout the series. In fact, in game 6 he was pulled from the game! He came back in game 7 and shutout the opposition.
Baseball players are considered a success when they get hits 3 out of ten at bats. Perfection? No. A batting average of three hundred is considered a lofty feat in baseball. Great pitchers dont throw perfectly all the time either. They can miss their targets, give up home runs and walk opposing batters and still win ballgames!
Shaquille Oneil and Tim Duncan, two of the NBAs best big men cant shoot free throws very well, they miss jump shots and throw poor passes at times too! The best shooters in the league strive for a 50% shooting percentage from the field. . Perfection? No.
The top tennis players in the world commit unforced errors and double faults during competition and they still win.
What is the point of all this? The point is that people who become winners do not do so because theyve attained perfection. They become champions because they can work with imperfection better than others. Perfection is not the key to winning. Sure, players STRIVE for perfection but its working with the reality of imperfection that brings you to your better performances.
Golfers fall into the perfection trap preparing for competition at times. They try to be so perfect in everything they do; they wind up over trying and scoring poorly. After a while, if they are smart, they realize that perfection is not the goal. Imperfect golfers playing imperfect rounds have won many championships. The key is being perfect within your imperfection!
Here are some important things to know about imperfection and perfection that can help you work with imperfection more effectively:
Have you ever tried to be perfect? What usually happens? This usually creates unnecessary tension and tightness, which in turn negatively affects your ability to play to your potential. Players who think about being perfect usually set themselves up for disappointment and failure because as soon as reality (imperfect shots and results) doesnt match the hope (being 100% perfect!), the player has set up a situation where a negative reaction will occur.
Being imperfect is more real than being perfect. Champions are not afraid of looking bad because they are too focused on the task at hand. Its the effort and commitment they make that pulls them through. Golfers hit poor shots, hockey players get knocked down, basketball players miss easy shots and so on. What they do AFTER that is what makes them champions. They come back and keep on going again and again and again!
By accepting that you are imperfect and that there will be imperfections in your performance, you will decrease the amount of self-induced pressure. Once you do this you can now play your OWN game the way you know how. Now you are fulfilling your obligation to express your talents to the fullest! (which means you will experience the good, the bad and the ugly at times!)
Its an interesting phenomenon that by accepting your imperfection, you actually begin to perform better. Why? Because simply by accepting imperfection, you immediately stop resisting what is real. Imperfection is real. You no longer fight the invisible battle that goes on inside yourself. When you accept this fact, you take the pressure off and free yourself up to perform at a higher level. Your energy is now funneled into doing what you know how to do and doing it to the best of your ability on that day. Handling imperfection perfectly right?
Being imperfect means that you can tolerate your own errors and mistakes. It doesnt mean that you like them or look forward to them but it does mean that you tolerate them. When you tolerate them, you dont waste energy being angry and frustrated by them. Tolerating them means you acknowledge them and move on to refocus on the next moment that needs your attention.
Practice and strive for perfection knowing that accepting imperfection is the key to playing full out without fear and reservation. This is the paradox of perfection.
Copyright 2004 David Breslow. David is the author of Wired To Win and offers a highly acclaimed Perform In The FlowZone' program for sports and business. David has appeared on The Golf Channel, ESPN radio, etc. For more programs/services/products or sign up for a free newsletter (write newsletter in subject box). Also, review the new series of Performance Training Manuals available online! Contact: David Breslow at 847.681.1698 Email: or visit the web: For book orders call toll free: 1.888.280.7715