OCTOBER 18, 2020

If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.

-Leo Tolstoy

There are two things we expect to achieve as a result of doing something: perfection and excellence. However, instead of getting these two things, what we often get is disappointment and discontentment with our work. The results don’t turn out to be as expected. You may wonder, why does this feeling of disappointment come instead of what we hoped for? Well, this happens because we chose the wrong thing to expect in the first place. The reason for our disappointment is chasing perfection, let’s understand why…

To truly understand why chasing perfection leads to disappointment, we need to understand the real meaning of the word ‘perfect’. Many people use this word to define something that is truly unbeatable and is at the zenith of beauty and glory. Something perfect can’t be improved anymore because it is at the pinnacle of how deep and glorified that thing can be. This is what ‘perfection’ is: being at such a high level that there is no way for you to improve and raise the bar of perfection any higher. It is the ultimate level one can reach to and there is nothing beyond it. This is exactly what perfection is in its true essence.

However, there is one problem with the concept of perfection itself. In the real world, the bar that defines perfection doesn’t exist and there is always scope for improving and excelling because the world is continuously evolving. This is why the concept of perfection doesn’t match with how our world works. If everything was perfect, then what was the need for volcanic eruptions to wipe out the old landforms and form completely new ones? If everything was perfect, then why did the earth transition from the ice age to the way the world is today? If everything was perfect, then what was the need for early humans to settle down and cultivate food instead of continuing to forage for it? If everything was perfect, then what was the need of inventing technology and automation?

This is the problem. We expect to achieve something that doesn’t exist. It is like being a kid who goes to a horse-riding academy and demands to ride on a unicorn. We all know that the unicorn doesn’t exist and think that the child is being silly. But actually, all of us are trying to find perfection in a world where it doesn’t exist, just like the kid trying to find a unicorn amidst the horse stables. Therefore, don’t all of us deserve to be called silly and childish?

Yes, we do. But how many of us really want to be called silly and childish? None of us, right? That is why we need to realize that we can neither chase perfection nor achieve it. When we try to chase perfection, we always end up disappointing ourselves.

So, if perfection doesn’t exist, then what is it that makes people successful? Well, the answer is excellence. There is a very thin line between excellence and perfection. And in the chase for perfection, we tend to smudge it and then it becomes difficult to figure out its exact location. It is important to keep this thin line clear and distinct because excellence is what will give you success and mastery.

What is excellence, you may ask? Well, excellence simply means highly qualitative or extremely good. It is one of the highest levels of fineness and understanding of something, but it is not perfect. Even when someone excels at something, there are always areas where that person has the chance to notch up a little and improve a little.

Constant improvement is what will create excellence and mastery because, in our ever-evolving world, things change very quickly. This is the reason why perfection doesn’t exist. Evolution and change require flow, and perfection brings stagnation. This major difference makes them incompatible and therefore, they can’t exist together.

However, you can still achieve mastery in something by striving for excellence, which simply means expecting to reach a level where you create something of great quality and intricate depth. To strive for excellence is great because you are showing the zeal to constantly improve the things that you excel in. I have experienced this because I have been writing blogs for the past fifteen months now and with every blog post I try to improve in every aspect of writing from the structure of the prose to the clarity and expression of my thoughts in a coherent manner. I am striving for excellence and I know that I still haven’t reached there, but I am not chasing perfection because every blog post will have something that I can improve on in the next. If I were to chase perfection in blog writing, I would always be disappointed simply because of finding a mistake in the writing I am trying to perfect. It would be foolish of me to not realize that actually, every blog post has a scope for improvement here and there and that I must accept the mistakes

One of the greatest examples of this in the corporate world is Apple. When the company introduced the first iPhone in 2007, everyone thought that Apple had completely revolutionized the world of technology. To people at that time, this was the highest level at which pocket technology could go. But Apple did not stop there because it knew that the iPhone wasn’t perfect. Apple still knew that even though it had achieved excellence with the formation of the iPhone, there was scope for improvement. Just because Apple took this approach towards their creation and improved it year by year; it became possible for the company to be at the top. And now we all know how different the latest iPhone is from the first one.

If Apple thought in 2007 that its iPhone was perfect and that there was no need to bring improvements, would it have been able to succeed at being excellent for all this time? The answer is no. This is simply because other companies would have seized the opportunity and created better products while Apple would have kept thinking that its iPhone was the best. Finally, they would have realized that the other companies have created better products than the iPhone and that its product’s popularity has decreased. This is why it is important to improve and become excellent; not perfect.

Strive for excellence, constantly improve and make sure that you are able to adapt and adjust to the changing world. Don’t chase perfection, but make sure to constantly find out areas to improve, and you will surely achieve excellence!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope that through this blog post I was able to add value to your life and help you in some way or the other. If you know someone who may benefit from this post, do share it with them and also share your learning and questions regarding this topic in the comment box below, I will surely reply!

Well wishes,