We desire it, we strive for it, and we crave being the person that delivers it. There’s a very good feeling attached to the words, “It’s perfect!” The closer we come to reaching that mark, the prouder we feel.
It’s the ultimate in personal satisfaction.
You can hear people promising perfection wherever you go. Here’s one: “Nothing leaves my desk until it’s perfect.” Someone else might admit (not too sheepishly) that, “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.” Some people stay up late at night, frantically editing and killing themselves mentally. “I can’t stop yet. It’s not perfect.”
That’s the extreme, certainly, but the flip side is that it’s often too easy to toss off the saying, “Ah, well, no one’s perfect!” I’ve heard that excuse many times, and it’s often been used in conjunction with a cop-out for shoddy work or simple laziness.
I thought about perfection a great deal over the weekend. A client had been struggling over a specific choice of one specific word in a press release, asking me to change the word or sentence several times. Finally, I asked the client what he felt the issue might be.
“Well, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it has to be just right.”
I set down my pen, politely thanked him for his patronage and informed the client that the project is now complete and finished. I have my own rainbows to chase; I wasn’t about to start chasing his.
Perfection is an illusion. No one can ever reach it for one simple reason: human beings aren’t perfect. We’re fallible. We have faults. We can never hope to reach perfection without being perfect ourselves, and that’s fool’s gold right there.
Perfection is subjective. We all see the world in different ways, and anyone can criticize this flaw or that lack. There is no one rule that outlines the definition of perfection, and no judge can award it with utmost confidence while all people agree. What is perfect to one will always be imperfect to another.
Someone might sigh in pleasure and say, “This coffee is perfect. It’s delicious.” I might take a sip and spit it out. “Are you kidding me? This is water with a drop of coloring! Want perfect? I’ll show you perfect!”
My coffee could burn the metal of a spoon.
Whether you’ve set the perfection rule for yourself or for others who work for you, learn to soften them. Don’t be proud of being a perfectionist. Don’t make someone work to reach unattainable standards.
Perfectionism just set a person up for repeated, consistent failure. It’s unhealthy to consistently hear or say, “No, that’s not it,” in the hopes of reaching one single approval.
Try your best and push, yes, but know the limits and be ready to stop. When you can put the pen down and say, “Enough,” you’ve achieved more success than all your failed attempts have accomplished.
You’ve shown self-respect – and in my books, that’s far better than being perfect.