perfection

i don’t want to be perfect

Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame says it best: “I don’t want to be perfect, I just want to be badass.” Love it.

Perfection is a trap. Perfection prevents doing. Perfection removes the human uniqueness that makes things memorable, wonderful, and worth seeking out. Perfection, ironically, makes things unremarkable.

Badass brings the noise, static, and rough edges. It turns the humanity up rather than muting it away. It’s excellence enhanced by the individual thumbprint. When we do perfect, it all looks the same. Badass allows my excellence and your excellence to look completely different and both be desirable and worthy. Where perfection slows, badass accelerates; where perfection is a shield to hide behind, badass thrusts us forward into the fray; where perfection is an excuse, badass is a catalyst.

Steve Jobs famously said: “Real artists ship.” Imperfect action beats perfect inaction. I can stall out over perfection or I can deliver my own unique excellence.

It’s a tougher choice than it sounds.

What thinks you?

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good enough isn’t, but great enough is

I was discussing the idea that good is the enemy of great the other day and someone said, “You ever notice how people say something is’good enough’, but they never say it’s ‘great enough’?”

Great enough. Love it.

I’m a big believer in the concept that good enough isn’t. Hitting the bare minimums isn’t success, it’s temporary survival. Sadly, most companies seem to struggle to reach even the level of good enough. They shoot for good enough customer service, good enough prices, good enough hiring policies, good enough management development, good enough training, etc. The problem is that, at the very theoretical best, it will only be good enough. In the real world, a bunch of attempts at good enough added together tends to equal not good enough. Aiming for “good enough” seems to get us to “doesn’t completely suck”.

In fact, I’d like to propose a real world rating scale. Feel free to use it for performance appraisals, evaluating processes, due diligence for investments, whatever you need a rating scale for. Here it is:

  1. Sucks
  2. Doesn’t completely suck
  3. Good enough
  4. Great enough
  5. Phenomenal, but exceeds the point of diminishing returns
On this scale, there is only one rating worth hitting: “Great enough.” Although “Phenomenal” sounds like a good thing, there comes a point in any quality improvement where the costs/effort/resources required for additional improvement become an exponential curve while improvements move along a very flat linear curve. In other words, you’re spending tons of resources for ounces of improvement.
But, “great enough”… Getting to great enough requires a completely different set of questions, decisions, actions than it takes to be merely good enough. Consider this: getting your life to good enough is easy. You’re probably already there. But what would having a great enough life look like and what would it take to get it there?
How freakin’ cool would it be to work for a company that focused on doing everything great enough? How incredible would it be to know that all your efforts at work were consistently great enough? Who wouldn’t sing the praises of a company that only hired people who were great enough?
I’ll give you tonight to mull it over. Tomorrow morning, what are you going to do to start kicking butt and creating great enough relationships with your friends and family? What are you going to do to create great enough health? To start getting your finances into great enough shape? Come Monday morning, what are you going to do to take your team to great enough? If you’re in HR, what are you going to do to create great enough selection and onboarding processes? To help the managers you serve to become great enough leaders? To create a great enough company culture?
Great enough. Love it!

Quick thought on perfection

Imperfect action will beat perfect inaction any day of the week. It’s easy to get caught up in planning every detail perfectly and not moving forward until everything is meticulously thought through. And if you fall for that trap, you’ll get crushed by someone who was able to immediately execute a pretty good plan.