Dave left Top Gun in 2006 to become a forward air controller in Ramadi, then the most dangerous city in Iraq, where he conducted urban combat operations alongside SEAL Team Three's Task Unit Bruiser led by Jocko Willink. Although they were engaged in what many believed to be an unwinnable fight, Dave was once again surrounded by the best.
And while Top Gun's training was replaced by combat, and pilots were replaced by SEALs, the takeaway was exactly the same: There is no such thing as perfection.
It's a lesson all elite organizations understand. Perfect execution cannot be achieved. Instead of searching for it, they define perfection as finding and fixing every mistake. Perfection is setting your ego aside and explaining to your team what you did wrong. Perfection is building a culture where your team is willing to expose every error, even those that could be hidden or ignored. Perfection is creating a team that competes over whose fault it is when a project fails or when goals aren't reached.
It's time to redefine perfection. Perfection is about mistakes. You must teach your mistakes to others so they learn them in the classroom, the boardroom, and the debrief. You must teach your mistakes to others so they don't make them in combat, on a sales call, during a negotiation, or when fighting a fire, running a business, or leading a team.
That's what happens at Top Gun, that's what when Dave speaks to your event attendees and that's what your objective as a leader must be.