Perfection is your enemy when you begin
May 27, 2021
How we aim at perfection, and be miserable. Here's what you should aim for.
Often in life, we think our work is completely crap and we try to make it perfect. We spend hours trying to make it good, but in the end we are not satisfied. Well the problem is we are aiming for a completely wrong thing.
Once there was a pottery teacher. She divided the class into two groups. She told group A to make 1 pot every 30 days. And group B to make only 1 perfect pot in 30 days. At the end of the month, when she examined the pots from both the groups, the best pot came from the quantity group i.e. group a, rather than the quality group.
In those thirty days, those students were busy making as many pots as they could and kept iterating and learning from their mistakes. In the process of making lots of pots, they sharpen their skills. Meanwhile the second group sat the whole month speculating about perfection. At the end, they had nothing to show other than their theories of a perfect pot.
It is so easy to get wrapped up and aim for perfection : the fastest way to lose weight, the best selling book, the perfect idea for a side hustle. We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action in the first place.
It is When We Focus on practising consistently without expecting perfection, we learn from our mistakes and grow exponentially.
This is why I force myself to post one article every week (aiming for 2). I can't predict which one would be the best, but I know if I write consistently, I will build my writing muscles and hopefully sometimes I'll hit the bullseye.
If you want to write a best-selling book, then you could spend 10 years trying to write one perfect book. Or, you could write one book each year, learn from your mistakes, and trust that your books will get better each time.
If you want to be a great artist, you could take the plunge to draw one perfect piece each day. Or you could draw a hundred pieces, learn from your mistakes, and sharpen your skills. Want to get better at photography? Take 10,000 photos. Learning how to cook? Try 100 recipes. Video editing? Make 100 videos. At the end of that (and with a few YouTube tutorials sprinkled in for good measure), it’s hard to not be significantly better.
The iterator is the one who grows. He puts in consistent work, without speculating perfection or procrastinating. Here's how @visualizevalue illustrates this.
In other words, when you think about your goals, don't consider the results you want. Focus on iteration that leads to that place. Focus on the piles of work that come before the success. Focus on the hundreds of pots that come before the masterpiece. Just start now and improve along the way. It would teach you much more than trying to create something perfect.