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Is Striving for Perfection Getting in the Way of a Job Well Done?

Is Striving for Perfection Getting in the Way of a Job Well Done?

I was watching the 2020 National Finals Rodeo during the 5th go-round. I really enjoy watching the steer wrestling competition because of the power required to put a steer on the ground and get all four feet pointed the same direction. If you have never physically participated in this activity before, don’t try it, but by all means enjoy watching the sport. I bring this up because of what I witnessed between one contestant and a steer.  

The contestant didn’t get a clean takedown on his steer; in fact, the steer decided he would fight back. They went across the arena, man and bovine locked in a struggle, and you couldn’t really tell who was trying to pin whom. Finally, they wound up over by the fence, which is an act of desperation for the cowboy because he needs to get some kind of time, and he’s already burned through over half his allotment. He gets the steer in the proper position, but the steer doesn’t want to be on the ground, so he rolls overs the cowboy while the cowboy still has a hold on him. The cowboy and the steer are both standing by the fence exhausted from their wrestling match, and the cowboy is going to put the steer on the ground again until the judge tells the cowboy that he had pinned the calf. It was at this time that the cowboy patted the steer, the steer quietly walked away and the struggle was over.  

You are probably wondering why a school finance article would include a steer wrestling story. I think this is indicative of where we are right now with 2020. We have been engaged in a fight to the finish because if something could go wrong, it did in 2020. As budget makers, teachers and leaders we are determined to make some good happen, and we aren’t going to stop until things act and look like they normally do. Like the cowboy, sometimes we don't even realize when we get our job done because the results are totally different than our "normal" expectations.

Now that we're officially in 2021, please take a few moments to think about what your work product really looks like. At what point do you call it a day and realize you are done? I am not advocating taking a short cut or not being thorough--that’s why I used the intro story I did. The cowboy in this story is exceptional at what he does, and the steer is obviously a credit to all bovine kind, but they struggled because they didn’t realize they had completed their job. Sometimes striving for perfect can get in the way of completing a job in a timely and efficient manner. When we are tired, when we have been working too many hours, we feel stressed or we have been ill, we don’t always recognize when we are over the top. It’s important to evaluate what your best looks like in different situations and adapt; your best possible work in some situations will look different in others.  

Andy Evans

Director, Finance

Andy serves as the Finance Director for OPSRC. In this role, he provides help in financial and business-related areas for schools. This includes budgets, managing cash flow, Estimate of Needs, federal programs and general service to aid in the effective use of district resources. Additionally, Andy serves as a resource in customizing budget spreadsheets, projection sheets, and other financial tools essential to administrators in maintaining their district’s financial health.

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