Perfection will send you to the Poor house

Nothing moves into the end stage of perfection, not even Einstein's E=MC2. It's just the beginning of an incomprehensible formula that may, but probably won't lead to a form of perfection

There are many roads that lead to Rome

There are many roads that lead to Rome

This story is for those people that have a perfection gene in their DNA they can’t get rid off. After many years of writing and experimenting I have to admit that I’m still a struggling perfectionist. Striving for perfection is good; being obsessed by it, is a debilitating form of procrastination.

Perfection was an affordable natural progression of pupil-apprentice-master-grandmaster throughout the ages, but has lost its effectiveness and attraction over the last fifty years or so. And as I’m contemplating this, I grow more and more convinced that things that don’t happen in our lifetime cannot be enjoyed. Think van Gogh who never sold a painting during his life.

I had this conversation with Webmaster Thom about wines the other night when he told me the story about a recent wine tasting of several 100 to 150 year old clarets. The general conclusion of the experts was that the wines were too young to drink. They needed another 50 years or so. Can you imagine the frustration?!

I have a friend down in the islands that I consider one of the best fusion guitarists in the world. He can seamlessly move between Brazilian folk, American Blues, Spanish Flamenco, any form of Jazz and what have you in one and the same song. As an accomplished guitar player myself, I would watch him in awe as we performed for educated audiences in resorts down there. He gave up playing about a year ago and turned his talents to painting. He claimed he couldn’t reach enough perfection to pay his utility bill.

Michael Masterson, a marketer/entrepreneur my age from Delray Beach, with an impressive career building businesses to success, recently wrote a book titled “Ready, Fire, Aim” brusquely changing what we have believed for centuries to be the objective of life.

Perfection, the curse of talent.
My friend Peter Soons, a long time retired doctor quipped years ago, that every physician gets a small cemetery when they start their practice. When the plots are filled with their patients, the need for perfection vanishes. He became a wood sculptor in the mountains of Panama since and is still looking for some level of perfection in a variety of arts.

He also mentioned on a personal note, that I had too many, often-conflicting, talents and too strong a sense of perfection to ever really reach the top in any of my multiple talents unless I would drop perfection like a hot potato.

I dread to report that perfection will put you in the poor house.

Stop preparing until theoretically every single detail is worked out. Stop analyzing until you are paralyzing every potential move to action and success.

Whatever it is you want to do: START.

Until 15 years ago this could be a very costly mistake. Not anymore.

Step away from the “laziness of habit”, that beast of burden that sits on your back and tells you that perfection is the only traditional way to find success and satisfaction. It’s a lie. A big fat ‘time and money’ consuming LIE. Just because up until the arrival of the Internet, every action was based on copycatting historic “proof” until something “original” was created, does not mean that innovation represents a level of perfection. It’s just what the word says: an improvement, not perfection.

Innovation is an upwardly mobile short cut; perfection is a never-ending process that sooner or later will alienate you from everything else that surrounds you. It will make you poor in social interaction as well as finances.

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3 Comments

  1. tommylee

    I'm even inclined to say that perfection doesn't exist. Bob Beamon's 8m90 long jump in Mexico city 1968 Olympics was considered unbreakable. Long jump is also considered the most difficult of all field and track athletic disciplines because of its complex actions.

    There are four main components of the long jump: the approach run, the last two strides, takeoff and action in the air, and landing. Speed in the run-up, or approach, and a high leap off the board are the fundamentals of success. Because speed is such an important factor of the approach, it is not surprising that many long jumpers also compete successfully in sprints. A classic example of this long jump / sprint doubling is performances by Carl Lewis.

    The long jump is notable for two of the longest-standing world records in any track and field event. In 1935, Jesse Owens set a long jump world record that was not broken until 1960 by Ralph Boston. Later, Bob Beamon jumped 8.90 meters (29 feet, 2-1/2 inches) at the 1968 Summer Olympics at an altitude of 7,349 feet, a jump not exceeded until 1991. On August 30 of that year, Mike Powell of the United States, in a well-known show down against Carl Lewis, leapt 8.95 m (29.4 ft) at the World Championships in Tokyo, setting the current men's world record.

    Not one of the technological advancements in shoes, track, computer modeling assisted jumps in the last two decades have measured up to beating the current 18 year old record yet every so often in time the record is broken meaning that a more perfect interaction of velocity, preparation for take off, air action and motion and enough landing speed is harmonized. Yet it only happens every 20 to 30 years.

    So yes: ready, fire, aim is the way to Start these days else you spend the rest of your life chasing perfection without ever reaching the jump line.

  2. Hal_Burns

    My Dad would tell me the hardest part of a job was simply “getting started”. Perfection or obsession, a fine line is drawn between the two. I know people who spend more time in preparing then then the job actually takes. Just do it for petty sakes..

  3. Gustav Altman

    The first time I ever saw Joe Bonamassa play guitar was in 1994 in an Atlanta Club in Midtown. The kid was 16 at the time and if I had gone home that night I would have smashed my entire guitar collection in Pete Townshend style and made sure that no playable part would have remained. I thought I saw perfection that night until Joe and I became friends and I learned that he was on a journey. His guitar playing was okay, he said, but he needed to hone his song writing skills and his vocal abilities. Today Joe is growing into one of the world's best in his field. David Sanborn who is headlining this year's Amelia Island Jazz Festival on October 10, got into playing saxophone because of his childhood polio. He was a prodigy at age 14. He is now in his early sixties and one of the best in the world. I guess I'm a little envious of people who find their calling so early in life, that from there on they never wonder about perfection. They just do.

    Thanks for the sports history. Very well put.

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