6 Aug 2013

Why Good is Better than Perfect

I am a perfectionist - or shall I rephrase that - I used to be a perfectionist. Now what might appear as a clean smart ingenious statement to make, and certainly one I used to pull at job interviews, can also compromise timescales, efficiency and the flow of creative thinking. It can create doubts and blockages as that feeling of frustration generated by the unquenched quest for perfection might just send you loopy in your daily endeavours. So I learnt to let go and no this wasn't easy.

Perfectionism and an eye for detail were certainly qualities and pre-requisites in my area of work (Marketing & Advertising), when it came to typesetting, copy editing, proofreading, CMS (content-management system), image manipulation, customer profiling and segmentation, but sometimes perfection had to be harnessed and toned down and tamed because time was of the essence. And if we didn't have the right Pantone definition to hand, maybe we had to work out a close match, and if I was still unhappy with a layout, maybe just accept this was just an opinion - my opinion - and opinions are subjective, and for the good of all, we had to go with next to perfect - if such a thing does indeed exist as it would imply that perfection is measurable.

We could be debating for hours on end about what perfection actually is, and chance is, everyone has their own personal definition of perfection, based around a loose set of universally-accepted moral and cultural codes, Fibonacci, divine proportions, and a more personal, biased set of standards and gamuts and benchmarks. Ask Michaelangelo about perfection, ask controversial architect Antoni Gaudí, ask eccentric painter Salvador Dalí, ask Karl Lagerfeld, ask your best friend, neighbour, colleague... Where a tall iron-board high-cheek-boned androgynous woman might be Calvin Klein's idea of the perfect woman, many African tribes would opt for a plump curvaceous generously-shaped busty woman who embodies feminity, fertility and health. There is relativity in perfection.

Calvin Klein Fall 2013 Presentation

Some of us are driven by the quest for perfection, yet isn't what perfection should be about: an ideal as opposed to an idea, i.e. to aim for perfection as a lifelong quest, but never to reach it? Because once you have reached perfection, what comes next?

By becoming less of a perfectionist, I started to get things done, things and ideas and energy flowing more fluidly. I became freer once I started being less harsh on myself. Perhaps I wasn't 100% satisfied with the image content in a blog post, but there was no way I was going to hold on with baited breath until the perfect pic was sourced. No I didn't think I looked great that day but I would nonetheless pull a video message to a friend or associate, because content was more important than form and anyway they may actually believe I looked great! Perfection is all in the head and a potential danger to our evolution in life if we seek to attain it, rather than simply aim in its direction as part of our core values, while respecting our limited capabilities. As we have briefly demonstrated, there is no such thing as objectivity of perfection.

Antoni Gaudí architecture in Barcelona, Spain (Pict source)

In my life journey so far, I have found out that perfection is not a universal truth or state of mind, it is subjective. Perfection is one opinion, it is one's opinion. Pushed to the extreme, perfection is as subjective as those Mothers Day cards that go "To The Best Mum in the World". The idea of "Best Mum" is skewered because how can we determine she is the best as indeed we have no way to compare, as we only have one mum in life. "Best Mum" would imply that we have been able, as a daughter/ son, to compare our own mum to other mums, which is pretty nonsensical. We just experience our own idea of perfection, we create our own perfection.

P.S: I am keenly aware that I have only scratched the surface of perfection here. Besides my approach might come across as pretty simplistic to some of the "illuminati" yet I have never claimed to be a philosopher nor a sociologist. My only claim is to be deeply passionate about the workings of the human mind and their interraction with our daily lives. I am naturally curious about life, people, relationships, including the relationship we hold with ourselves. If this also describes who you are, you have come to the right place @ La Baguette Magique! Glad to have you around!

Illustration by Luis de la Torre, via Behance

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