There’s No Such Thing As Perfection

10 cardI’m a perfectionist.

I’m also an idealist. Yet, as I rapidly approach my 34th birthday (one week from today – Feb 23 –  accepting gifts) and nearing they day that Baby Waldow arrives (March 28 – also accepting gifts), I’m becoming less of a perfectionist and more of a realist.

What Is Perfection?

That’s the real question. Is perfect a 10 out of 10, a 100% or a 50 (think NBA Slam Dunk Contest)? What about a perfect game in baseball or a perfect season in football (Miami Dolphins)? Even though the Dolphins didn’t lose a game in 1972, was their season “perfect?” Is 10 perfect? Not if you can turn it up to 11 (Spinal Tap reference).

Perfection starts with standards. Who defines them? Are they always the same? Some argue that the New England Patriots had a perfect season, yet lost to (my) NY Giants in the Superbowl. Is that perfection by a different standard? A few years ago, the Utah Utes had an undefeated season (13-0) yet were not BCS Champs. Were they perfect? Think about a “perfect” quarterback rating in the NFL. It’s a 158.3. Is that perfect? QBs can have very different stats and still end up with a perfect rating. How does that make any sense? What I consider perfect may be less then perfect (or even crap) to you and vice versa. That’s the rub. There really is no such thing as perfection.

Kristina Was Right: Perfection Doesn’t Exist

My wife, Kristina (aka, the K-Dawg), has been telling me this for years. I’ve been ignoring her. Part of it is likely due to my competitive nature – Dammit. I’m gonna prove her wrong! However, besides my desire to “win”, I also think that those who strive for perfectionism are more likely to be successful. I’m not sure if I’ve read that somewhere or just made it up. Either way, I believe it to be true.

Aside: As I’m writing this post, I’m toggling back and forth to a slide deck (PowerPoint presentation) for an upcoming conference. I’m moving pictures and words around on some slides to be sure they are “just right.” What’s wrong with me? Will anyone notice except me? Probably not. Heck – I just read and re-read and re-re-read that paragraph above to be sure it was perfect.

However, perfection doesn’t really exist. We can always do more, better, faster, cheaper. Always. Please don’t tell Kristina she was right. Please?

I’m Not Perfect , You’re Not Perfect

Thinking back to my “pre-adult” life (more on growing up by Teresa Basich), I haven’t really been perfect. Far from it in fact. In school, I never made straight A’s. I didn’t get a 1600 on my SATs (not even close!). I didn’t ace every exam I ever took. I’ve always been an above average athlete in most sports, but I’ve never been the star.

I’ve got some news for you as well. You are not perfect either. There is always something you can be doing “better” – an aspect of your personal or professional life you could be tweaking, improving, perfecting.

Stop Trying To Be Perfect

Ok. I admit it. Maybe I’m writing this post more for me then for you. I’m trying to convince myself that it’s okay to not be perfect. I’m writing down my thoughts in hope that I’ll actually believe them … listen to my own words.

But I’m serious. It is not possible. More importantly, if you try to be perfect at everything, you’ll miss out on a bunch of other cool stuff. In the time it took me to knock out this (perfect) blog post, I could have written 3-5 posts that were “90% perfect.” Which is better, one killer (perfect) post or 5 really really good posts? I think you know where I’m going.

Now let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that you (or I) should not strive to be the best we can be. I’m not saying that mediocre is okay. I’m merely stating that there are times where less then perfect is not only acceptable, but preferred. Sometimes it’s okay to give and/or achieve less then 100%. I think this keeps us sane. It ensures that we don’t spend all of our time on one thing and miss out on other aspects of life.

So, am I crazy? Should I not give up my perfectionist mindset? Have I convinced you that perfectionism is not only unrealistic, but a waste of your time? Talk to me…

Photo Credit: aprilzosia

DJ Waldow