Friday, February 22, 2013

Don't Let The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Productive

How many of you out there consider yourselves a "perfectionist"?

It's not a bad trait. There's a lot of value in making whatever you're working on the best that it can be. But do you find that you have difficulty with completing projects on time? Do you find that the "perfectionist" in you causes you to obsess over minor issues, or that you're constantly second guessing yourself.

Do, I select Blue, Light Blue, Aqua? I understand that in certain situations a choice like that may be considered make or break. But in many others that particular decision won't represent the end of the world if it's not the most perfect.

Some of us may be guilty of using the "perfectionist" in us as an excuse or as a crutch and it can prevent us from moving forward and being productive. Look around and check to see how many unfinished projects you have laying around. How many bits and pieces of ideas which have never been molded to completion all because you didn't have the "perfect" whatever to make them just right.

The thing we have to come to grips with, is that no matter how "perfect" we make something, there will always be someone, somewhere to find fault with the effort. And I suppose if we're honest with ourselves we can accept that there's always room for improvement.

Often times the "perfectionist" has difficulty accepting constructive criticism and so the defense mechanism becomes - well if I'm always perfecting it - and I don't release it or publish it, then no one can say anything critical about my work.

But then, when you take that path, you wind up with not a lot of visible production for your efforts. It's always, "oh, I'm working on this idea"; or "I'm just about to finish" something else. But you have to ask yourself, where's your completed project which has been published for the "world" or your peers to see?

Well, it's over there on the shelf... waiting for perfection. I've become of fan of the continuous improvement approach. And it's great to strive for perfection, but you also need to understand that you are where you are at a particular point in time. Make your best effort and then make it available and be willing to accept whatever the critique may be from others. You may very well learn something that helps you to improve on your next outing.

This is not an argument for "just throwing anything out there". You always want to do the best you can, and make whatever you're working on the best that it can be. Just try to avoid becoming paralyzed waiting for something that may never come... the mythical "perfection".

1 comment:

  1. I think the title will be my new mantra. Great post--I can really relate.