Productivity vs. Paralysis: On Accepting the Reality of Imperfection

by Laura Stack

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection.” — Toba Beta, Indonesian author. problem of perfectionism. We can become so tightly focused on getting things “just right,” it’s difficult to let anything go. Of course, there’s always something you can improve, if you just keep nitpicking at it. But at what point do you hit a point of diminishing returns? Eventually, the improvements you introduce are no longer worth the time you spend on them—and if you keep at it, you’ll roll past your deadlines and crash your schedule. Let’s face it: perfection rarely occurs in this world, and as Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy pointed out, “If you look for perfection, you will never be content.”

Your leadership expects a certain level of production, and you’ll impress people when you deliver more than they expect. But to achieve higher levels of success and focus on higher-value activities, you must let some things go at some point—either altogether or earlier. Here are ten simple reasons why you should duck perfectionism:

  1. You’ll have more time for other things.
  2. You’ll feel better.
  3. You’ll be happier.
  4. You don’t worry about making a mistake.
  5. It helps you realize life itself isn’t perfect.
  6. You can’t control other people’s imperfections.
  7. You’ll appreciate near-perfection when it occurs.
  8. You’ll be able to grow.
  9. It sets boundaries on what you shouldn’t do.
  10. It helps you accept change more easily.

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