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The Perception of Perfection

By Nancy Busch, ISFA Executive Director

I recently joined a peer group of nonprofit association leaders. Being new to the group, I wasn’t exactly jumping at the chance to raise my hand to share a challenge that I was having, but, of course, as that guy Murphy would have it, I was chosen. So, I gave them what they asked for and I voiced some concerns I had about the ISFA Annual Conference, which was just a few weeks away. After I was through, another leader shared a story about a friend who had recently gotten married. While dancing with her at the reception, he told her what a fantastic event it was. The bride broke down in tears and started carrying on about everything that didn’t go exactly as planned. He told her that from a guest’s perspective, it was perfect, and that perhaps all the focus on the wedding details was misplaced. After all, the focus should be on the happy couple and their bright future together, not the color of the dinner napkins or the missing centerpieces.  

Haven’t we all been there? We get so focused on perfection that we lose sight of the bigger picture.  

The 2021 ISFA Annual Conference went — by no means — exactly as planned. There are always snafus that cause best-laid plans to go awry, like finding out three days before the event that the venue’s kitchen was closed. Or the notes that were misplaced, which resulted in some not-so-perfect ad-libbing. Or the literal loose ends that caused blisters as we feverishly tied the knots on the welcome kits and the name tags. 

But despite it all, it was a lovely event, and most importantly, the goal of providing a beautiful setting for connections, learning and lasting memories was accomplished.  

None of it would have been possible if it weren’t for my capable ISFA team behind me and specifically Amy Kryriazis, who planned for months behind the scenes. Band-Aids aside, she powered through it all, like a duck on water.   

Recently we started the ISFA Behind the Surface Podcast. On paper, it sounded like a reasonable undertaking to pull off in six weeks. In reality, there are audio edits to make, intros, outros, subjects, guests, platforms, creative assets, messaging, and other technicalities to sort out. And when you think you’ve sorted it all, there’s another hiccup you didn’t see coming: uploading the finished product to the many podcast platforms — and, just a heads-up, some require a two-week lead to review your content. (The more you know!) Once again, we powered through it.  

In the first episode of the podcast, Eric Tryon discusses reducing material costs by creating a compensation plan. Eric shared that while compensation is meaningful, rewarding through recognition is equally as important. He reminds us that we are wired to succeed and please others. Finding ways to harness that value for good can be empowering but, at the same time, it’s destructive when negatively reinforced.   

Throughout the process of pulling together the podcast, I was reminded on a few occasions that it just wasn’t possible to achieve perfection in such a short time. “Why the rush, Nancy?” they asked. Well, that’s simple. I knew that the message was powerful and that it’s a priority for us as an association to keep helping our members grow their businesses. I also knew that we have a very forgiving community that will step up and support the bigger picture with grace as we develop something new. And sometimes you need to do the thing to plan the thing. I’m not saying that being pushed into the pool is the best way to learn to swim. However, some positive encouragement to get in the water can help get you closer to the goal.   

I have a sign on my desk that says, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I’m not sure who wrote it, but it couldn’t be more accurate. So, we focus on the wins and strive to improve for the next time around because that is what’s possible. 

About the Author

Nancy Busch is the executive director of the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA), a globally recognized premier trade organization dedicated to the manufactured surface industry. She has worked in the building materials sector for more than 15 years. She served previously as sales manager for Willis, a North American distributor of premium design materials, as well as an independent kitchen and bath designer, earning NKBA’s Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer (AKBD) certification. Nancy studied fine art and design at Pacific Lutheran University after earning an Associate of Arts and Science degree at Pierce College. Find more information about ISFA at www.ISFAnow.org. 

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