How To Truly Reach Perfection

“Uh Dad, Green Bay isn’t even a city on this Map.” 

“Don’t worry, when I’m done with that team, it will be.”

That’s what the legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, told his daughter when he and his family were about to move from New York, to the tiny town of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Lombardi was widely regarded in the league as one of the best offensive coaches in the game of football. But until that point, he only had a chance to prove himself as an assistant coach. So, although he had to relocate his family to Green Bay, he was excited to get his first shot at being a Head Coach.

So excited, in fact, that his first words to his team upon arrival were:

"Gentlemen we are going to relentlessly chase perfection. Knowing full well we will not catch it because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it. Because in the process we will catch excellence. I'm not even remotely interested in being just good." [1]

This speech captivated the team; especially the starting quarterback, Bart Starr, who said, "I couldn't even sit in my chair I was so excited."

This was a team that had little to believe in. Before Lombardi, they had not had a winning record in over a decade. So they knew that in order to achieve the success that their coach expected, they had an uphill battle. So they worked - and never stopped.

The coach demanded great effort out of each of his players all of the time. He personally would work from 7 in the morning until 11 at night - relentlessly chasing perfection. This relentless work created a powerhouse in Green Bay. Lombardi won so many championships with this team that Green Bay soon became known as "Title-Town".


If you’ve ever had a goal, you know how exciting it can be at first. You can see the perfect “after photo” of your life when the goal is achieved and you love what you see.  You imagine all of the great things about the “new you” and you can't wait to get started working towards that goal!

Then it’s time to actually do the work. And whether that work is putting pen to paper, or putting foot to treadmill, you get a sudden rush of being completely overwhelmed. You see just how much work it’s going to take to get from where you are, to where you want to be. Then you get paralyzed by the fact that you don’t know where to begin. 

So you procrastinate. [2]

You see that you are so far from achieving the perfect body. 

You are so far from getting that degree.

You are even so far from having a perfectly clean garage.

And right now doesn’t feel like the “perfect time” to get started. So why bother? Why not wait for a time that does feel right?

This perfectionism is one of the key de-motivators in achieving our goals. After our initial enthusiasm wears off, we hit the middle of the journey and the perfect body seems so far out of our grasp. So we think, "what's the point? We'll never get there."


Chasing perfection does not have to be like this. Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers are proof! They used perfection to motivate them to create a team of excellence. So what can we do to become motivated by perfection, rather than paralyzed?

Here are 3 proven ways to use perfection to your advantage:


The biggest reason that we become demotivated by perfection is because we get the feeling of being overwhelmed. When our brain takes a look at how much work we need to do in order to reach perfection, it believes that it is hopelessly out of reach. [2]

Chunking is the process of shifting your focus from that larger goal, into smaller chunks that are easier for your brain to comprehend. If your goal is to follow a 12-week exercise plan, it can be overwhelming when you’re tired on day 4 and thinking about the fact that you have 80 more days of this. 

But if you shift your focus to simply accomplishing the workout plan today, you are far less likely to become overwhelmed. Then, before you know it, 20, 40, 60 days have passed and you are more confident than ever that we can make it to the end.

So break up your idea of perfection into small chunks. Use the larger goal to set your direction, but then focus only on what you need to do next in order to achieve it. 


“Doing is better than perfect.” – Facebook company motto

When I first started writing, I had a huge problem with perfectionism. I would have spurts of inspiration where I would write like crazy, then I would have other days when I didn't feel inspired, so I would procrastinate. I would wait until the "right inspiration struck" to start writing again.

This led to one month of writing 10 articles, then the next month writing just 1. I wasn't able to build an audience, because the audience didn't know what to expect from me. And during those "down times" I felt hopelessly frustrated that I couldn't find inspiration.

Then I read the book On Writing Well by William Zinsser, in which he advocates for "writing terrible first drafts". [3] 


Because he recognized the fact that our brains' become overwhelmed when we seek perfection. There is a much clearer path from a blank screen to a terrible first draft, than there is a blank screen to a perfectly written article. Because I knew that whatever I came up with didn't have to be "perfect" I had the freedom to simply write. 

Then once I had a terrible first draft written, it would be one step closer to the perfectly written article that I was seeking. Leading to more productivity, less procrastination and less frustration. 

So just do it. You may not have the perfect workout, but the only bad workout is the one that you didn't do. It may not be the perfect time to start that project, but any progress is better than no progress. You can't improve on something that doesn't exist in the first place.


Despite his best intention of perfection, Vince Lombardi knew what he was getting himself into. He had a losing team that was far away from championship caliber. But he didn’t expect a championship out of his team. He didn't expect perfect results, he expected perfect effort. 

Results are ultimately out of our control. You could follow a strict diet plan and exercise every single day, but you cannot control how your body will respond. You may lose 5lbs, you may lose 10lbs, you may lose 20lbs!

Perfection is not found in results. Perfection is found in your effort. Making sure that you do the right things to make progress every single day. That is the only thing you can control when working toward your goal. The result is ultimately just a guess.

So shift your idea of perfection from the result, to the process that it will take to get there. Always asking yourself, "how can I do this better?" 


Perfection is something we all strive for - we want to be a part of creating something truly great. Whether that is a great product, a great body, or a great life. This pursuit of perfection has the power to motivate us, or to completely paralyze us.

Do not become paralyzed by the pursuit of perfection. Break up your huge goals into small chunks, "write terrible first drafts" and focus on your effort - not your results. And find the strength to just do it. You don't need to be great to start, but you do need to start to be great.


  1. Steel, P. (2007). The Nature Of Procrastination: A Meta-analytic And Theoretical Review Of Quintessential Self-regulatory Failure. Psychological Bulletin, 65-94.
  2. Bandura, A., & Schunk, D. (1981). Cultivating Competence, Self-efficacy, And Intrinsic Interest Through Proximal Self-motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,586-598.
  3. Zinsser, W. (2012). On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction. Harper Collins.