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The Curse of Perfection

Just before midnight on December 29th, 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 began it’s final descent to the Miami International Airport. As the plane approached its final destination, something odd happened in the cockpit area.

A little landing light burned out. The entire flight crew immediately fixated on finding a solution to this little light. The more they stared at the light, the less they paid attention to the flight.

Long story short, because they were so focused on finding a solution to a nonessential problem, they didn’t realize the plane was no longer on autopilot. A trivial task distracted the group from keeping the plan on course, and they gradually lost elevation before crashing into the Everglades.

Distraction kills.

The pursuit of perfection is more often than not a distraction. Corporate life demands so much of the modern day worker.

You have your meetings to attend, emails to write, business plans to complete. But rarely do we actually stop to ask why. Why do we do what we do, what is the true value?

There are hundreds of choices to make each day on how to spend your time. But in reality, only a handful of those choices will actually keep your plane elevated, heading in the right direction.

Don’t confuse being busy with being productive. The difference between the people who actually make a difference and those who don’t often lies in their ability to finish.

If you become so busy with so many different tasks, how can you really expect to finish the one great project that actually matters?

Perfection then is often a fancy way of hiding behind our own doubts and fears. If you wait until you have the perfect article, plan, book, or production that moment will never come.

So instead of finishing a project, we move on to the next big thing.

In our pursuit of perfection, have we sacrificed quality for quantity?

I believe so. I think the main reason why people preach perfection in all areas, even at the sacrifice of major quality, is fear.

Fear of becoming so laser focused that one can actually accomplish something meaningful.

Fear of what will happen when we stop pretending to be busy and start innovating.

The problem with perfection is that it’s an elusive goal that often distracts from otherwise great accomplishments.

Remember. Real artists know how to finish. Even if a product isn’t perfect, if the essential tasks are completed and your plane is elevated, you just did more work than 99% of corporate America.

Sure you may get your hands messy. Maybe your product isn’t perfect. Maybe you don’t succeed in every area.

But if you can strip down the tasks in your life and truly understand the things that move you towards your goals, that keep your plane elevated, and the things that are just a distraction that will cause you to crash and burn, then you know exactly what to do with your time.

Focused production trumps illusive perfection any day of the week.


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