Archives for posts with tag: Perfect

How many of us strive towards perfection, aiming to do something perfectly? After all, if something not worth doing well, if’s not worth doing at all, as our parent and grandparents – the grafting generations, before it all got a bit too easy – used to tell us.

Can we do something perfectly? Can we put in a perfect performance, a perfect execution of a plan? Is perfect even attainable? Is it like a ghost, or a mirage, always out of reach? Should it even be something we strive for?

I know that if I ever do the perfect something, I’m never going to do any of it again. When I write the perfect press release, play the perfect game of footie or table tennis, deliver the perfect presentation, close the perfect sale, or deliver the perfect marketing campaign, I’m going to quit immediately, on the highest of highs, and never do one of them again.

I’ll quit when I produce the perfect something because I’ll never be able to do better. I’ll leave at the top, and not solider through the inevitable decline from my best, like so many people do.

I reckon I’ll be OK for a while though. Right now I’m not close to perfect in anything that I turn my head or hand to.

No company is perfect. When you work for an organisation you know about – or tend to hear about – its issues, problems, flaws and so on. You know what it’s really like under the hood.

All organisations are plagued with a lack of resources necessary to do a perfect job, which is why the perfect job doesn’t exist. The more resources you hire, the more you need.

It’s easy for us to get consumed by the things that our product doesn’t do well, or at all. We know the full story in most cases. It’s us who have to deal with the internal horror shows, and patch things up behind the scenes.

I used to know a lady whose husband worked for an aircraft manufacturers. He wouldn’t fly on the planes his team had built. He had seen the compromises, the short cuts they had made.

It’s our perspective on the warts and all, after all, because we have to work on the warts. We don’t see the full picture. We don’t appreciate the checks and balances being performed in other parts of the business.

Our customers certainly don’t see the warts, until they buy and start to use the product. And even then they might not see them, because they may only use part of the product. No product is perfect, but if your product does all the key things well, then that’s what makes your product successful.

You see, warts and all ain’t so bad. Only from your perspective.

‘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.