Good > Perfect
If you are anything like me, your days are ruled by performance driven, Type-A perfectionism: that means you are easily annoyed when small details of a plan go awry. No matter how successful a strategy or accomplishment, I am inevitably reviewing minor details after the fact, looking for areas of improvement. A perfect example comes in the form of a recent event that was held for a large group at a dinner meeting. While everyone at the meeting was enjoying the nice restaurant and jovial ambiance among colleagues, I was making mental corrections to the space. You see, two chairs had to be added to the already full table at the last minute, for unconfirmed guests. This was not a problem for anyone attending the dinner, and the detail was quickly overlooked in the interest of the cocktail menu. Nevertheless, my focus on this uncontrollable detail and the sense of failure that ensued was not only counterproductive at the event, but my perfectionism turned out to be my own worst enemy. Sound familiar?
A good solution implemented in a timely manner is preferred to a “perfect” or unattainable solution.
Perfect is the Enemy of the Good
This age-old adage seems like common sense; but rarely do we realize it when we are so lost in the details. We all want to produce perfect work, in a perfect world with perfect information – but this isn’t possible. So we must settle for good work and set attainable standards, in lieu of leaving unfinished projects or unmet timelines.
Perfect is the Enemy of Possible
Perfectionism stifles big ideas and dreams, assuming that because it is very difficult to attain perfection on the first attempt, one should never try. However, innovators and entrepreneurs alike will tell you that they are professional failures; not only are they good at failing, they have codified the process and learned to capitalize on each lesson along the way.
Perfect is the Enemy of Done
Have you noticed a theme yet? Similar to our inability to consistently churn out perfect work, the need for perfectionism impedes our ability to complete tasks. When projects remain unfinished for lack of a perfect solution, the situation has only worsened. A good solution implemented in a timely manner is preferred to a “perfect” or unattainable solution that drags on and on through implementation and delivery. Imagine building a new salon or implementing a new marketing strategy: by the time you have reached perfection, busy season has passed you by and it is time to begin again.
Perfect is the Enemy of Presence
On a deeper level, perfectionism keeps us from being present when it’s time to move on from planning and focus on execution. More importantly, professionally and personally, there comes a point when the time to plan and focus on the details is over and we must be present with the people around us. Focusing on minute details when surrounded by colleagues or even family and friends steals valuable minutes from many of us when it’s time to show up and invest in those around us.
While I am guilty of all of these perfect failures, I have also slowly learned to recognize the less beneficial side of perfectionism and my time has become more productive. As for the chair situation I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I, too was quickly distracted by the cocktail menu.
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