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Thursday, December 04, 2014


I think our culture of trying to "blame" someone is the culprit of why perfectionism is so rampant. Our culture has also become a culture of specialists, "the niche," the authorities. Generalists are out of style right now...(but I can look for evidence that's changing.) What do you think?

Anyone can blow off perfectionism by declaring, "I don't care!" (I've certainly had to surrender and semblance of perfect for extended periods of time!!)  But how to deal with it when you DO care about quality and you know you have time to make things better?

I've discovered that own desire for quality is an emotion of pride - without fear. It's the fear of the result not being good enough in some way that's the problem.

What does it for me is thinking about what's important for me personally. But I've learned some ways to decide where to draw the line on how much work on perfection is too much in various ways.

  • I try not to use the deadlines of the project to "get myself moving" so I don't have to run faster or more efficiently from having procrastinated. I'm deadline-driven, but I'm getting better and parsing out how much time I've really got left.
  •  I pay attention to how I'm doing what I"m doing, as I'm doing it. (This helps quality to happen by itself, so I make less mistakes by omission.)
  • For me, using a thinking skill helps. For instance, spelling out the factors (by making a list of plus, minuses and "interesting") helps me prioritize what is more important and helps me stick to not wasting my time on what is merely urgent but not important.
  • Sometimes there's a key site of applied effort which I've learned to search for ahead of time - where if I concentrate my efforts there, it acts like a kingpin of influence that has a ripple effect on the whole.
  • If I can, I practice it before the "big show." But sometimes the first time is my best effort. Whether I chose the practice or the "wing it" approach depends on if it's a "hard-wired skill" or a "integrated concert" of many integrated skills and factors.
  •  Maybe I get a chance to decide how much time I really have to improve on quality and I might be able to use the strategy of spreading that time I have to improve quality over the whole project.
  • Finally, I put the desire for perfectionism on cue, and then give the cue when it's more appropriate. In certain situations where I have decided it's appropriate, I just give myself permission to do something with the highest quality and take however much time I feel that the objective needs. Purely because I enjoy being absorbed in making something happen exactly the way I imagine or know it could be. I invest the practice, the dedication, and embrace the effect of long-term, gradual gain. What's the harm in that if I'm not hanging someone else up?

Anyway, just some of how I deal with perfectionism. What activates a desire for perfection for you? How have you managed to make peace with a desire for quality when you know you're going to be falling short?


  1. Ok. Your last question first. Perhaps I'm not falling short. Perhaps the "falling short" relates to your first point: blame.

    I'm unconsciously striving for the unattainable (father/mother/tutor/peer) forgotten image. Do something out of character. Practise provocations.

  2. Concept of perfection:

  3. Also, the point about fear of not being good enough is so fundamental. Schooling imparts the terror of being wrong from a very young age. Also, no matter how wonderful we think our parents are, or one of them is, there is the minus side if we look for it. Usually we don't like to look, so we don't find. This is also a sort of provocation: looking for faults in perfect things as something fun or interesting rather than a fear reaction. Some fear is necessary as a natural protection . . .

  4. We are so busy following what comes naturally that we never have the time to think about alternatives.

  5. Scales of Perfect.
    10/10 When we know for sure we could not do any better
    9/10 The best under the circumstances
    8/10 This is what I was paid to do and this is what I did
    7/10 Not quite good enough but within the constraints and finished
    6/10 Needs polishing up and re-touching later
    5/10 Is this what I'm really trying to achieve or should I change it
    4/10 This is a good beginning
    3/10 Good but I need some alternative ideas, not quite happy
    2/10 Will follow customer's requirements precisely
    1/10 Looking to develop my existing ideas