Often, when we start an new project or decide to learn something new, we set our goal to be perfect. While it can be useful to set high standards and to be ambitious, there are times when the goal of perfection can and does work against us.
What can happen when we strive to be perfect, especially when we are doing something we have no experience with, is our doubts overcome our desire and our will. We can end up in analysis paralysis. A state where days and months are spent coming up with great ways to make the project perfect, while we never actually get started.
Here is a story that demonstrates my point:
A ceramics teacher announced on the first day of a pottery class that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weight the work of the quantity group: fifty pounds of pots rated an A, forty pounds of pots a B, and so on.
Those being graded on quality, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an A.
Well, came grading time a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the quantity group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the quality group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little of note to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
My point is that by focusing on perfect we can get stuck and not make a start. I believe that’s it better to just get started and learn as I go along.
Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I believe that I should always do the best of which I’m capable; I’m only saying to let go of the idea of perfect. Or as Yoda advised Luke, “Do or do not . . . there is no try.”