The Problem with our Pursuit for Perfection and the Life-Changing Practice of Good Enough’


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    Entries in ish (31)


    It's not binary

    I’ve posted recently on productivity, quality and getting out of your own way.

    My new book ’ish - The problem with our pursuit for perfection and the life changing practice of good enough’ is out now.

    A fear I’ve heard is: if we 'ish' anything it will mean the ‘crapification’ of everything. People will care less, do less and not bother about anything anymore.

    But woah there, wait a moment; ish isn't that binary, on/off, black/white. 'ish' means somewhat, approximately and it's not for every situation.

    'To ish or not to ish’ is one of the book's chapters. Some things are suitable to be good enough or 'ish', others not.

    You see, perfectionism is a problem, a growing global addiction causing depression, anxiety, overthinking, burnout, insomnia and other health issues. It’s worth finding ways to tackle our unhealthy pursuit for perfect that shows up in our daily thinking, behaviours, tasks, activities and projects.

    Join me as we find new ways to think and work that don't require our pursuit for perfection but rather help us go for things that are fit for purpose.


    The road to nowhere

    There you are about to start a new project or task. You're ready to go. You're ready to start ... but do you know when or where you will stop? Might you end up working on this task, idea or project and it has no known end?

    How do you know where the end is?

    I've learned much working with software developers these past 10 years; they work out the 'definition of done' before they even get started. How smart is that! To know when you'll be 'done' before you even get going!

    The alternative is that crazy space where you start but you don't know what the finish looks like. Well you do, but it's a conjuring, your imagination at work, creating an image in your mind.

    We're clever humans but bringing a mental image into reality is a tricky thing to do. This is why the pursuit of perfect is such a waste. The image keeps changing and we don't know when to stop.

    Before you get started, work out where you will stop. Marathon runners do it; airlines, pilots and planes do it; taxis, trains and Ubers do it; chefs with recipes do it. What are you or the team working on right now that has no defined stop point? You're on a road to nowhere.

    Pause, define the stop point and then re-start.


    Keep it moving through the team

    Playing well on a team means not slowing things down unnecessarily or holding things up. To collaborate, contribute, do our bit or add our expertise to a piece of work, is a fundamental part of work.

    It's rare we work in total isolation - unless in our own business - even then, we might have a team member, suppliers and ... customers.

    Do you know how your working style impacts the 'flow' of work through the team? Are you searching for 'more' or to make something you're working on 'better' before it's 'done' or handed on to others?

    Perfectionism and the pursuit of 'right' isn't just an individual thing; it has a huge flow on effect for the wider team and beyond through the organisation, to customers and clients.

    This article talks about the impact of perfectionism on the team.

    Have you been slowed down in a team where someone might be going for perfect?

    Love to hear your thoughts. 


    Tinkering kills productivity

    Tinkering. It's one of the top productivity killers in the workplace today.

    You know how it goes ... you've got a presentation, report, something to get 'done'. And you start it. But then when do you stop? When is it 'done'? Hour after hour. Possibly day after day. For some important reports and presentations it even becomes week after week. (month after month anyone?)

    Tinker tinker tinker. We fiddle, adjust, move the shape a little to the left, a little to the right, change the font, change the size, change a word here and there. Change things back again. Re-read, change, edit, fix and fiddle.

    This is tinkering with information and communication. And it's a massive time waster.

    In our efforts to make something 'better' we often spend - or waste - an inordinate amount of time on the things that are less important. Our perception of what constitutes 'value' is skewed; skewed and distorted by our desire to make things look good, impressive, clever, perfect. After all, it reflects on us - doesn't it?

    Do you tinker? How do you know when something is 'good enough' to go?


    Follow the law of forced efficiency

    The incredibly successful Brian Tracy, who authored plenty of books and inspired many to greater things in their life, certainly inspired me in the earlier days of running my business.

    I spied one of his books on the shelf of a local bookstore, I jumped at it and thought, ‘this will do; I won't have to read 100 books, I'll just read this one. It will be good enough.’ The book? ‘The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success.’ And the Law I love love love? It's # 15: The Law of Forced Efficiency.

    It reads ‘The more things you have to do in a limited period of time, the more you will be forced to work on your most important tasks.’ It's just another way of saying ‘there is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important things.

    As you take on more, you'll be forced to act with ‘maximum efficiency’. He continues: ‘If you are successful, you will almost always have too much to do and too little time.’ So ask: what is the most valuable use of my time right now?

    And for you? What is the most valuable use of your time right now? I'd love to hear your thoughts.