I am a recovering perfectionist.
Perfectionism is all I have known, I like things organised and everything to have its place. I like pristine lines and appreciate things in order. I hang my clothes and fold my towels in a particular way. Weird, not for me.
Recently, I came to the conclusion that perfectionism is not perfect. You might ask, why the change of heart?
Today, we are hyper connected. Information comes at us from everywhere. We have to constantly make decisions based on all the information. Be it buy a product, choose a location for our child’s upcoming birthday or where to take our next holiday, if we can take out time from work for a much needed family holiday.
We can buy things with a click of a button. Connecting with friends, shopping, movie tickets, and even delivery of flowers to our mother is possible with great ease. And I love it!
With so many options in place we are under pressure to make the perfect choice. When we decide to buy a car today, in almost any budget, chances are we will be faced with at least half a dozen options. We have to choose from various companies, shapes, engine types and even colours.
We have to choose not just any car, but the perfect car for us. With so many options, if we choose poorly, it reflects badly on us.
This is where being a perfectionist really becomes a problem. We spend too much time deciding the perfect item for us is when it doesn’t particularly help us achieve what we have set out to accomplish.
I was reading a book and came across an interesting term the described exactly this situation. The word is satisficing. It was coined by the Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon, and means not getting the very best options but the one that is good enough.
It is a tool for us not to waste time on the decisions that are not of importance to us.
After reading the phrase, I started to notice where I was spending a lot of my time. I was wasting time making decisions which were not going to affect the outcome of what I wanted. Spending time on deciding which colour grip goes well with the frame of my badminton racquet doesn’t improve my game. That same time spent in practicing more helps me become a better player.
Similarly in business, focus on progress and moving forward, not perfectionism. In this digital age, almost anything we write can be edited. Mistakes will happen, it is part of business. We need to focus on the things that help our company grow. Effort for those items to be perfect is an investment of our time. For everything else satisficing should come into play.