The Perfection Trap

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“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”

–     Michael J. Fox (b. 1961), American actor

The past couple weeks, I’ve been tormented by an old habit of mine — trying to get something “perfect.”

The project at hand gives me 3,813 opportunities to get it wrong (not hyperbole, that’s actually a statement of fact!)  The data is probably 70% accurate.

So, why waste time trying to get it perfect?

I like baseball-is-life comparisons.  In baseball, the two greatest claims a pitcher can make for a game are a no-hitter and a perfect game.  There’s a marked difference between the two.  In a no-hitter, the pitcher doesn’t surrender a base hit.  In a perfect game, no one reaches base.  Not only no hits, no walks, no hit batters, no errors.

And therein lies the trap.  In one game, a pitcher might make 85 perfect pitches and give up a couple hits or even a run or two.  In another, that same pitcher might make 27 horrible pitches and be the benefactor of 27 amazing plays by the team.  In the former case, a nearly perfect effort might produce a loss, in the latter, a lucky outing is forever logged as a “perfect” game.

It’s relative.  It’s subjective.  It’s unattainable.

Excellence, though, is more objective.  And it’s attainable every day, if we’re willing to strive to get better every day.

A week ago, I felt like I was at about 50% on the big project.  Today, I’m somewhere in the 90% range.  Considering the odds and the challenge, that might be excellent, and it’s sure as heck good enough.

What’s next?

 

 


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