Everyone loves perfection.
We demand perfection when we go out to a restaurant for dinner. We demand perfection when we go the dentist to get a tooth drilled. We demand perfection when a relative goes into the hospital for surgery.
Of course, perfection has a cost – perfection is not cheap!
For our perfect dinner, we need 5-10 people working in the restaurant dedicating their lives to our dining experience plus all of the suppliers of food, contractors who built the restaurant, interior designers who designed the restaurant and everyone else who indirectly created our experience.
When we see the dentist, he usually has a team of 5+ people working in the office plus nearly a decade of post secondary education to earn the right to work on your teeth.
The surgeon is has a similar team and education to the dentist.
Perfection is something we all want, but is it something we need?
Studies show that Top Achievers, the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, actors, sales people, sports stars etc. strive for perfection but choose improvisation over perfection.
Top achievers improvise.
Consider the 80/20 rule, 80% of our results come from 20% of our actions. If we want to achieve the last 20% the “law of diminishing returns” comes into effect. After a certain point, the same actions will yield no further results and the last 20% becomes nearly impossible to reach.
Perfection is an ideal, something that we all strive for, but something that we cannot achieve without an irrational amount of effort. Therefore, top achievers will reach their point of satisfaction, improvise and will move onto the next task.
You are better to grab the first 20 cents of every dollar than to try to grab 100 cents of every dollar because the last 80 cents are so hard to achieve that the return on time yields no measurable result.
Improvisation is a key skill for success. In his book Lynchpin, Seth Godin talks about the concept of “shipping”. When creative, influential people are working on a project, they set a deadline and on that day they “ship” the product whether it is ready or not. The deadline benefits the author twofold:
1) It gets the product out the door in it’s first revision, the product is imperfect, but it exists and is ready to go.
2) The product no longer has the risk of never becoming completed
Instead of perfection, we have a shipped product that is ready for use and is ready for improvement.
Microsoft (love them or hate them) has a very practical business model. They always “ship” their software – ready or not, bugs and all. The software that they ship is not always ready, but with patches and revisions, it eventually becomes functional and the company is able to earn revenue and serve it’s customers. Bill Gates became the richest man in the world by “shipping” his software like this and improvising rather than seeking perfection.
If software companies would hold onto their software until it’s perfect, they would all go out of business before the software is ready. The fact of the matter is that perfection should be reached for, but we cannot wait for the “perfect” product to ship because perfect does not exist.
What is much more practical is to produce a good product and slowly adjust it towards perfection.
Even companies like Blizzard Entertainment, the creators of World of Warcraft, the most profitable video game of all time are known for “taking their time” to produce their product. They will develop a title over 10 years and reach the closest they can to perfection without achieving it. After 10 years of development, they will release the imperfect software and continue to patch it to bring it closer to perfection over a 5-10 year period on the back end.
Are you addicted to perfection? Is your addiction holding you back from achieving your dreams?
For myself, I have renamed my company and brand nearly 6 times this year, I have gone through 6 runs of business cards, I have created and re-created 6+ websites to get the exact message I want. My motto is to “ship” whether or not it’s perfect and adjust as necessary. The benefits of shipping when it’s functional instead of perfect vastly outweigh the drawbacks. For example, I won the Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine’s Joint Venture Partner of the Year award for 2012 because I had started blogging on an imperfect blog and gained some visibility.
My business was exactly the same with or without the visibility, I still did 12 deals, however, because I had an imperfect blog with imperfect articles distributed in an imperfect way, I was visible and nominated for the award.
Had I not “shipped” my blog until it was perfect, I would not have won the award. The deals still would have been done, but I would have lost out on $30,000 of press and exposure.
Perfection is a fickle mistress, chase her as an ideal, but do not succumb to her allure. Favour the maiden of improvisation and all will be well.
Thanks for reading,
P.S: Please share this article if you found it enjoyable!