Progress Not Perfection. 

Success is improvement, not getting it right. 

I am a football ref.

(Well, among other things. I cannot feed my kids and pay a mortgage on $4/hour.)

One of the things about being a ref (besides being hated by everyone) is that you cannot ever do your job right. In every play, someone is doing something illegal. With 22 players and four refs, we are bound to miss something.

I tend to obsess over details, find identity in doing things right, crave respect and am competitive to a fault. Being a ref crushes these things.

Last night I did a freshmen game between two cellar dwelling teams in a small Oregon town. No biggie right? But I honestly struggled to fall asleep as I thought and re-thought about the flags I did or didn’t throw. The game is quick, you’re reacting and there is no HD instant replay.

While rewinding plays in my head, I realized this:

I will never ref a perfect game.

There is simply no way to get every call or non-call right. You will be wrong. The game, like life and business, is too fast and subjective.

So instead of being perfect, I will be progressing. This is the lesson for officiating and for life. Getting better at what you do; whether it’s perspective or tactics — is the definition of success.

Perfection is unattainable, in fact, so is the notion that we’ve ever “arrived” in anything. If that is the standard, you’ll get frustrated, doubt yourself and quit. This is true in your job, your dreams, your relationships.

So instead, shoot for progress. Since we’ll never arrive, it’s the moving head that makes you stand out. Aim for this and by definition you’re becoming a success.

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