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Being Perfect vs Being Successful

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever been in a job interview where you were asked what your weaknesses were?

Yeah, I know -- the idea is to give a weakness that could also be viewed as a strength!

The truth is that weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. And one of my weaknesses is being a perfectionist.

But I'm not the only one, right? I bet, in certain areas of YOUR life, you're constantly tempted to keep on doing something until it's absolutely perfect.

Well, being perfect doesn't always translate into being successful.

Getting something 100% right can mean you end up wasting precious time and energy for no real pay-off... that you miss a time-sensitive opportunity... that you lose momentum and enthusiasm... that you don't even end up finishing what you started!

Ring any bells?

But then there ARE situations where being anything less than perfect is completely unacceptable. I'm reminded of my days as a lawyer where the mere thought of giving a client "imperfect" legal advice was inconceivable.

And you'd hardly want your doctor to be less than perfect when he's performing surgery on you, right?

So how do you know when being less than perfect IS not only adequate but IDEAL?

Here's my 4-step formula.

Ask yourself these questions when you embark on task or project:

1. Would anything less than perfect be acceptable by most people's standards?

-- If no, then aim for perfection.
-- If yes, move on to Question 2.

2. Does getting it perfect improve the result in a substantial way?

-- If yes, then get it perfect.
-- If no, move on to Question 3.

3. Does getting it perfect improve the result in a small, but noticeable way?

-- If yes, get it perfect.
-- If no, move on to Question 4.

4. Is getting it perfect necessary to satisfy some internal need?

-- If yes, and the matter is NEITHER time-sensitive nor "energy-sensitive" (energy-sensitive: the longer it drags on the less likely you are to finish it), then get it perfect.
-- If no, then...

FORGET ABOUT GETTING IT PERFECT AND JUST GET IT DONE!

Now, this doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't improve something over time. While I don't recommend continuing to "tweak" something just for the sake of it, I strongly recommend improving something if it cost-effectively generates better results.

So, depending on the product, project or other thing in question, a good general approach is to follow the above four steps to get the thing done. Then, if it's cost-effective to do so, continue to test, track and introduce improvements.

But remember -- you can't improve something that doesn't exist. So be sure to get it done first!
About the Author
Anna Johnson is the creator of the inspiring 1 minute movie, A Bit Of Inspiration. Enjoy the movie and get inspired! Then claim your free A Bit Of Inspiration screensaver - your daily reminder of the power you have within.
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