‘When I play the perfect set of tennis,’ I used to say to myself, ‘a set I couldn’t improve on in any way, I’m going to hang up my racquet and never play again.’ I’m still playing. You can’t get to perfection, nothing’s ever perfect for anything other than a fleeting moment.

It always used to amaze me that you’d find typos in printed books, especially first editions. Who’s checking these things? I would mark the errors on my copy, contemplate contacting the author – especially if I knew them – and never get round to doing it. I used to be a voracious reader of Seth Godin’s daily blog. Very rarely, because his work is pretty meticulous, I would find a typo, maybe once every 200 posts. I would send Mr G a note with the correction and he would unfailingly acknowledge me, like he has nothing else to do. I don’t do it any more.

The same applies to our working lives I think. Whatever you’re doing, it won’t ever be perfect! You occasionally get these very exciting periods during a land-grab, dot com-type situation where people talk about ‘ready, fire, aim.’ ‘Just get it out there,’ they say. ‘It’s good enough.’ When you’re in those periods it seems like you need to move so fast that good enough is all you have time for.

I’m not saying you should give up and get it out there. The ‘perfect’ approach is to aim for somewhere in the middle, between ready, fire, aim and perfect. Exactly where in the middle is down – or up – to you. You should always give something your best shot, or there’s no point doing it. It needs to be more than good enough. It needs to be the best you can do, in the time available.

You can always change something, tweak something, improve it or correct it a touch, with one more iteration. At some point, time is up, and you have to hit the ‘go’ button. As I was fond of saying, ‘life’s too short, and so am I.’

‘Perfect’ poisons you. Your best shot is your best shot.

 

 

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