How many of your strive for “perfection” in everything that you do? Are you meticulous and take great pride in doing your best work? Are you not willing to share anything with anyone else unless it meets your exacting standards? Guess what? For all your best attentions you are exhibiting a self-limiting behavior!
According to Dictionary.com, perfection is defined as “The state or quality of being or becoming perfect”. So what does perfect mean? Again, according to Dictionary.com its “Excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement”. For someone seeking perfection they are trying to make something that can’t be made better.
Perfection is a double edged sword; on the one had we can all appreciate the beauty of a perfect object on the other hand producing something that is perfect takes a lot of time. Time unfortunately is a limited resource that we don’t have in unlimited supply. Agilists realize that time is precious and we need to try and maximize what we do with every minute.
Perfection was a disease holding me back when I started my business. I can remember my very first Agile Project Management class. I wanted the class manuals to be perfect. I spent several months
working on them, slowly tuning and tweaking every page. The night before the class I was up until 2 am trying to finish them. Finally, I realized that I had to get to bed and that I couldn’t do anything more to them. So instead of showing up fresh to teach my first class, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I know that my performance suffered for my lack of sleep and I seriously doubt anyone even noticed my “perfect” class manuals. What would have happened if I had let go and realized that the manuals were fine and that they didn’t need to be tweaked into the late hours of the night?
For us to truly become Agile we must be willing to accept good enough. Our first go at something should be a quality effort that meets the objectives that we set out to achieve. If what we product doesn’t meet the expectations of the receiver then we can always redo it later. Once you become comfortable with this mindset you will find that you are producing a lot more than you used too. Also, if you are like me you will find it liberating to get something out the door so that you can move on to something else.
Next time you are fretting over getting it “just right” realize that perfection has you in its strangle-hold. It’s time to let go, produce something that is good enough, and move on with life. Don’t let perfectionism hold you back and prevent you from making forward progress.