Striving for Perfection

I’m writing this from a lumpy old green couch that sits in the central room at Awkwaaba, the EWB House. Marc-André is playing the guitar, Pascal and Bill are each on a hand drum, and Evan is singing the words to a song I don’t know. There are laptops out everywhere, a French conversation is going on to my right, and I don’t think the sweat I worked up learning how to do the shuffle has yet dried.

Today we all got an amazing piece of advice from Brian Magee to help with a common struggle we had in analyzing a case study. Nobody was moving anywhere on the analysis because we were all too afraid to miss some important element of that analysis. As a result, there was very little experimentation with potential strategies and solutions to the problem at hand. Brian, seeing our struggles, gave us the following piece of advice:

In constantly striving for perfection, it’s easy to miss out on opportunities to be great instead.

His thought was turbo-relevant to all the members of my group-made up of perfectionists-and a majority of the other JFs. In light of it, we jumped on an opportunity for greatness instead of worrying about getting our analysis perfect. We dove deep into that one thing and worked it through to exhaustion with great success (and feedback from the facilitators). It was a creative storm!

I think many of the lessons I’ve learned at pre-dep have not come from the content of the sessions themselves, but from the process of doing the sessions and working through the challenges associated with that. Kind of like life, huh?

Anyway, a lesson for all, myself included: when it’s what you can get, great is better than perfect.



2 responses to “Striving for Perfection

  1. I heard Parker say something similar to that once – “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

    (Or, from A Very Potter Musical – “Okay.” “…Is okay good?” “Quirrel, okay is wonderful!”)

    Also, I’m totally making you perform the shuffle on command when you return. IT WILL COME WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT.

  2. I’ve heard George say the same thing.

    Also, Voltaire “Better is the enemy of good.”

    But I particularly like the way that Brian put it! I think I will steal that!

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