"Perfection" is the Wrong Word

 

Recently I was reading an article about Sir James Dyson, the guy who came up with that super-sucker of a vacuum and that really sweet air blade hand dryer. It’s a classic rags to riches story; he toiled away in obscurity in the garage for years trying to get his invention right, and then almost lost everything before it became a success. His “overnight success” was really the result of many years of hard, hard work.

As a fellow entrepreneur, I find stories like that fascinating. But what stopped me in my tracks was his quote about perfection. The write of the review suggested that the inventor would most likely be a perfectionist given his obsessive desire to make his products the best they can be. Instead, he said this:

"'Perfect' is in fact completely the wrong word to use. You start with a goal and you make the best possible version you can make at that moment. You give the customer the best available at that moment, and then you set another goal and start working on it again."

When I read that I thought church tech directors and volunteers. We may want it perfect, or our leadership may want it perfect, but perfect is the wrong word. The truth is, it will never be perfect. But that’s not an excuse to phone it in, either. While we can’t make it perfect, we can make the best possible iteration of it (whatever it is) at this moment. 

Perhaps next week, next month or next year with some additional training, equipment or time, we can make it better. For now, this is the best we can do, and that’s OK. Don’t give up or feel like a failure; just set a new goal and get back to work. 

I actually find this concept quite freeing. As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to get frustrated at the obstacles to my getting something as close to “perfect,” at least in my own mind, as possible. But now I simply have to consider if I’ve done the best I can with what I have available. If I have, and I’m not satisfied, I can set some new goals and give it another go. It’s brilliant, really.

How have you overcome the pursuit of “perfection?”

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