The quest for perfection is something we humans have always loved. It’s in our very nature to seek perfection. From the old kings of Egypt, to the ancient Greeks, to the Renaissance artists, up until present day, we’ve always sought perfection in one way or the other.
Perfection has become an integral part of our lives. We like to have a perfect body; a perfect mindset; perfect friends; a perfect partner; a perfect spouse; perfect children; a perfect life. We like to keep things perfectly arranged in our homes and workplaces. We yearn to do things perfectly.
The quest for perfection has become so essential that we’re afraid to fail. We’re afraid that we might do something imperfect. We’re afraid what others might think about our imperfections. We’re afraid of criticisms that’ll follow.
So, what do we do? We keep ourselves locked up from trying out new things and experiences. Or we just keep planning and never execute.
The fear of imperfection follows us throughout our lives. For some (like me) the fear also manifests itself as procrastination. When I first planned to start this blog, I waited almost two years before I took the plunge. One of the reasons: I wanted to create a blog that is just perfect for me.
Let me tell you a story I’d read a few months back.
The Quest for the Perfect Pot
A ceramic teacher was teaching his students how to make pots. Being beginners at pottery, these students were excited to learn something new. None of them had even attempted to make a pot before in their lives.
The excitement amongst the students was palpable.
After teaching the students the basics of pottery, the teacher divided the class into two batches. He instructed the first batch to create a perfect pot; a pot that has no defects. For the second batch he instructed to create as many pots as possible, ignoring the quality aspects.
He then informed the class that there’d be a pottery competition at the end of the semester and students from both the batches can enter their pots into the competition.
The first batch of students started planning their perfect pot. They discussed about its design. They researched everything about how to make pots. They held regular meetings, week after week, to perfect their pot’s design. Ultimately, they finalized on a few designs and started working on their pots.
The second batch of students were busy creating as many pots as possible. They made all types of pots, ignoring the quality aspects; small pots, big pots, crooked pots, intricate pots, simple pots. They were churning out dozens of pots week after week. At first it was painful and their muscles ached for days. But they’d grown so used to creating pots that their hands had gotten used to it.
At the end of the semester both the batches were instructed to submit their best pots into the competition. When the votes were tallied and final results announced, the class was very surprised.
Turns out, all the best pots came from the second batch. They’d created so many pots that they’d become skilled at it. Their continuous practice had made them more efficient at making pots. While the first batch were on a quest to make the perfect pot, the second batch had raced ahead and made one, though unintentionally.
All the students learned an invaluable lesson that day. If you want to be skilled at something, practice it effortlessly.
(Well, you can also smoke pot, but that is a different topic altogether.)
Now that I already have a blog, my quest for perfection has shifted towards writing blog posts. I still haven’t finished a travelogue I started writing months ago. The reason: I want to include all the pictures (and that includes editing them, a lot of them) and make it just perfect.
Heck, I’m writing this while the last two days of the travelogue still remain unpublished.
Perfection isn’t bad per se. In fact, it’s great. In the right hands, it can also be beautiful. Sometimes, perfection is not only essential, it is critical.
The problem only arises when you get trapped in the quest for perfection. I’m still struggling how to deal with it, but I hope it only improves over time.
In conclusion, I’ll let this quote from one of the most quotable (and intelligent) characters to have ever lived do the talking for me.
“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”