“Satisfaction is the Enemy of Success”

The above quote is from Tiger Woods, as attributed in longtime golf coach Hank Haney’s book. Tiger is a perfectionist, despite his perceived personal defects; he changes things that don’t necessarily need to be changed just to feel that he’s improving, like his swing. Haney talks about having to make small changes sound huge, just to placate Tiger.

While I certainly can’t claim a degree of success anywhere near Tiger, I get that feeling. In my daily life, simply treading water feels more like drowning. My impetus, or push to move forward, is more of an internal drive–hence my tattoo–because I want to be a source of things. This feeds heavily into my interest and passion for user experience, and even for my reasons for choosing technical communication for a Masters degree. In both, the audience figures heavily into the equation because they (and their perceptions) can literally and figuratively make or break your product. And those expectations are constantly evolving, which makes it extremely important that your product does as well.

For the past 3 days, I’ve been at a conference with a central focus on customer service in IT (the keynote was literally called “The Power of Service in IT”). However, the sessions themselves seemed more about creating and delivering satisfaction like it was simply a threshold that had to be met. I was disappointed at the lack of strategic thinking presented, and the lack of vision or guidance that usually leaves me feeling excited and refreshed and super pumped to get back to work and, to be frank, make some cool shit. It feels stagnant when it should be innovative.

This brought me back around to think of our consumer’s expectations as similar to Tiger’s drive for perfection. We can’t offer perfect service–if we did, then there’s nothing to strive for–but even incremental changes, when communicated effectively, can have far-reaching positive implications. As a training & communications person, I see my ability to effect change as something like throwing a pebble in the water: one spash causes ripples through the community.

But what’s better: placating an audience through subtle manipulation, or constantly striving to meet unrealistic or unattainable expectations?

What do you think?

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