Perfection is the enemy of Good

Rachna Jain
Sunday, 11 July 2021 20:39 PM

This is an aphorism that is commonly attributed to Voltaire, who quoted an Italian proverb in his Dictionnaire philosophique in 1770.


The idea is simple: if you keep looking for something perfect, you will end up rejecting what is good enough. There is also the concept of the Nirvana Fallacy, which amounts to comparing perfect, unrealizable ideal situations to something that exists.


This is something which we face with the investors in our business very regularly. Everybody wants to time the equity market perfectly, to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. Most people will not buy because they feel markets are too expensive, later having regret of having missed out on the rally and then will start waiting for another correction not realizing that a new cycle has started and the old lows may never be touched again.


As the old saying goes, "Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." Trying to make something perfect can prevent us from making it just good. Perfection in its elusive glory is like a unicorn. Sure, it sounds great, but who's seen one? I'd rather ride a real horse than wait for an imagined unicorn.


Perfection can be a good thing: After all, that drive can push people to do great things. But it has a dark side, too. The challenge of "perfection" can intimidate people so they don't even try. If perfection is the goal, yet unattainable, what's the point?

So, if you can't achieve perfection, don't sweat it. Go for good instead. Gretchen Rubin described it this way:

"Instead of pushing yourself to an impossible 'perfect,' and therefore getting nowhere, accept 'good.' Many things worth doing are worth doing badly."

You're capable of amazing things. But unless you let go of the idea of perfection, you'll have a hard time achieving those amazing things. We should understand our efforts for making those work done would never go in vain. Perfectness would get achieved when there would be efforts.

A sculptor does not build an idol the first time. He puts in his efforts and tries to build up the sculpture. Unfortunately, there is some miss on his eyes or on the eyes of the critics. He again builds up another model to rectify those misses. However, like the shades of Zebra both the sculpture becomes unique in its creativity. They also got some imperfections. But those imperfections lead to the shades in the eyes of the viewer. This way he creates lots of arts and showcases them in the emporium.

The pursuit of perfection is noble, but unless we're willing to settle for "good," we may have to settle for nothing at all. If we stop at any point only thinking about the rectification then it would never lead to progress. Life should never be stopped for a single mistake or an imperfection. Rather it is time to understand the art of perfection for progress.

It is better to strive for progress than perfection and stay blessed forever.

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