“Perfect is the enemy of good.” — Voltaire
After I write this post, I have two options.
I can obsess over its flaws, wonder if there’s a better way to say what I want to say, and edit it for months until I think it’s perfect.
Or, I can hit publish.
I’ll choose the latter option.
Because seeking perfection doesn’t move us forward — it holds us back.
Our best work isn’t perfect. It’s the imperfections in our work that enable it to be great.
Perfect isn’t interesting.
Perfection is never as interesting as imperfection.
The flaws, rough edges, broken rules, and counter-intuitive choices are what makes our work unique, effective, and memorable.
The imperfections are what attracts others to our creations and what makes them stand out.
Attention is drawn to things that stand out — not things that fit in.
What makes something stand out is how it differs from the norm. But perfection demands the opposite — it encourages you to embrace the norms.
The definition of “perfect” is something that “has all the required or desirable elements.”
What that actually means is it’s perfect because it offers what’s expected. That’s fine, but what’s expected is rarely interesting and often boring.
What’s expected isn’t what gets noticed.
Perfect isn’t relatable.
It’s cliche to say nobody’s perfect, but it’s cliche because it’s true.
Nobody is perfect and that includes our audience. We all struggle and like to see our struggles reflected back to us in the people we follow and admire.
Revealing your imperfections instead of hiding them doesn’t drive people from you — it draws them to you.
Imperfections are relatable.
They humanize us and our creations, and they encourage people to connect with us in ways they’ll never connect with things that appear perfect.
Perfect is limiting.
Let’s say we manage to create something perfect (we can’t, but more on that in a minute).
We’ve lived up to the impossibly high standard we set for ourselves, but now what? Where do we go from here?
Perfect doesn’t allow for change, improvement, or growth. If we convince ourselves something we’ve done is perfect, we remove our ability to improve it.
Iteration, adaptation, learning…these are enabled by imperfection.
When we become comfortable with putting imperfect things into the world, we create opportunities for ourselves to become better.
Our mistakes are valuable. Don’t undervalue them by trying to avoid them.
Perfect is an excuse.
The easiest way to avoid putting something into the world is to aim for perfection.
We can’t let anybody read our book because it’s not perfect. We can’t sell our product until it’s the best it can be. And there’s no point in pitching potential clients until we’ve perfected our pitch. Right?
Too often our quest for perfection (our “high standards,” “commitment to excellence,” or whatever other nonsense we label it) becomes an excuse to avoid moving forward.
If we try and fail, we’re a failure. But if we work on perfecting our creation forever, then we just have high standards!
We can’t use perfection as a cover for our own fear.
When we’re willing to put something imperfect in the world, we force ourselves to realize the only thing holding us back is our fear — and that can be overcome.
Perfect doesn’t exist.
Here’s my last pitch to convince you to embrace imperfection.
Perfect doesn’t exist. You’re chasing a ghost.
There are an infinite number of variables surrounding your work that make perfection impossible to define and assess.
What’s the perfect version of this post?
For some people, it’s a short version. For others, it would be 10 times longer. Maybe it needs more concrete examples or more profanity (Fuck! I knew it was missing something!).
There’s no “perfect” version of this post just like there’s no perfect version of anything we do.
But that’s fine as long as we learn to embrace what does exist — imperfection.
I know this post is imperfect and I’m fine with it.
Because I’m fine with it, I can publish it, provide value to people with it (hopefully), learn from it, and move on to create another one.
Aiming for imperfection allows me to progress. To move forward. And ultimately to succeed.
So, who needs perfect?