Perfection you may think is something that people should always strive for, and this may well be true, however you will soon realise when reading this article that it’s just not that simple.  We will discuss the concept of perfection and also how we perceive perfection as being just as important.

Paradoxically we will also discuss that there will be times when ‘progress’ can be more important especially when the perfect outcome may not be achievable.

The perfection trap. You may have noticed from past experience that there were times when you may have put off taking action until you can guarantee a perfect outcome.

When this happened you probably spent your time waiting until the conditions felt just right, but ‘just right’ almost never happens.
The trouble is that waiting until things are perfect means you may never get anything started, you live in a perfect dream world, and never practically do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, this is what we refer to as ‘the perfection trap’.

Waiting for perfection is like “Sitting in the airport waiting for the train to come in”.

The reality is that working hard and seeing real progress brings more reward than perfection itself, taking into considering Pareto’s theory we can say that 80 % of the result can be achieved with 20 % of the work.  What this means is that on one hand we shouldn’t let ourselves fall short of an excellent result, whilst on the other hand a search for pure perfection as the only outcome can only lead to disappointment, and this moves us on nicely to the concept of the progress trap.

The progress trap.
If we aim for perfection with every step we can progress and get closer, but there has to be an end to this, as sooner or later our steps become slower, shorter, and eventually our progress will falter.
Progress can go on for too long, this happens when we are left with diminishing returns, and this is what we call the ‘progress trap’.

So there is a time when the more you try for perfection the more you will fail.
Perhaps this is when we need to be practical accept an excellent result, save your sanity and energy and move on.

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo Tolstoy.

Continuous Improvement.
The essence of progress is all about reaching your mark, making improvements and moving on, we should therefore see progress as the concept of continuous improvement also known as Kaizen which is Japanese word for improvement, Kaizen is central to the improvement philosophy in business.

Progress therefore is about aiming for and implementation of continuous improvement and change for the better.

I see the relationship between progress and perfection being that as you progress and improve, perfection is a great stick to beat yourself with.

Concentrate on likely outcomes.
Another problem that can happen is that people can spend their time and energy concentrating on a perfect outcome, the problem with this is that the perfect outcome is very, very unlikely, instead we need to spend out time and effort concentrating on and making the most of the most likely event. This is what is most likely to happen and this is where we need to focus on.

Perfection as a process.
Perhaps the key is to everything here is to concentrate on progress, progress takes you nearer your perfect outcome, and in doing this we can also consider that ‘perfection should be a process not an outcome’.

The way I see it is that when it comes to getting results “You are more likely to hit the bullseye when you are nearer the target” and each step gets you closer and closer.

In Summary.
Don’t wait for the perfect time to get started, take action now.
Be practical about your outcome, aim for excellence but know when to stop.
Think about progress being the key with perfection as your driver.
Think of perfection as a process not the endpoint.

A few last thoughts.
Imperfections give us variation and differences this helps us evolve, alternatively mistakes give us breakthroughs as we stumble upon the new.

I do believe that for me a perfect world wouldn’t be a challenge it would bore me to death, however getting back to the subject of perfection if I’d waited for perfection before writing this article it wouldn’t have been written, consider it however to be work in progress.