John: Here is a full confession. I don’t believe perfection exists at all.
I have a theory. I can do something perfectly or I can do something that is good enough. Things that fall into the perfect category – writing a policy, procedure or guideline; anything financial, such as paying my bills in a timely manner; or anything that will have repercussions in either my professional, emotional or financial health. Anything in those areas has to be perfect. I take my time. I sincerely focus, I slow down and I do it right.
On the opposite end of that spectrum are things that are good enough, which means they are done, but I don’t do them with the same level of enthusiasm or diligence. Things that fall into this category include, giving the dog a bath or my diet (I am always going to eat chicken wings and chocolate chip cookies and no one is going to tell me otherwise, I’m a grown man). For these, I use the Pareto principle – 20% of my actions will bring 80% of my results. So unless the dog is getting fleas, his scrubbing schedule is working.
The reason I have accepted this now is because I am a human and I will make mistakes. I know, right?
We all know this, but I used to have a difficult time about not just doing things right, but doing them perfectly. And if I made a mistake, it would crush me for the week, or longer. I continuously replaced the tape in my head over and over and wondered how I could be so stupid. It was not until I got with my current work partner, who is amazingly sharp, who said, “John, I’ve sent e-mails to the wrong people before, with the wrong attachment and even called them the wrong name!”
Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t care, but I certainly don’t want to wreck my health or worse, over something that if I just slowed down, I could likely catch it. So that’s what I did and it has seemed to work. If I am doing my best, and I am, then I don’t worry about if I have forgotten word. Sorry, I meant a word. I just put it out there and fix it the next time.
Sandy, do you panic when you put work out there? If so, do you panic when you do? And have you ever made a mistake that did not derail you like you thought it would?
Sandy: Hey John, I completely agree with you! Perfection has never been my thing, because I believe that in most cases it really makes no difference. So many things, like cleaning the house or working in the yard, need to be done, but they really don’t have to be perfect. Done is good, especially since they’ll need to be done again in a few days or a week. If I needed to do them perfectly, every time, I’d be a wreck!
There are some things that I try to do as perfectly as possible. When I’m with my clients I am 100% with them, and do all I can to make it a helpful and perfect experience for them. Also, when I’m with my family and people I love, I try to give them my attention and make it as perfect as possible.
If a doctor is doing brain surgery, it obviously needs to be perfect because things like that have no room for error and the consequences can be dire. However, when the doctor goes home s/he doesn’t need to wash the dog perfectly (as you said).
Over the years I’ve learned that many people feel they have to be perfect to be loveable. They might have come from a family where they got positive attention when they did something well, and no or negative attention when they didn’t. So, being perfect meant being loved, accepted and appreciated.
I believe that we are all unique, and as you said, very human. The nature of that, is that we are each perfectly ourselves, even though we don’t always do everything perfectly all the time.
We need to give ourselves a break, and do the best we can, at the time, with the resources and talents we have. That’s perfect enough.
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