The Curse Of Perfectionism

I learned of this blight from ever-engaging Matthew Syed. Discussing his second book (after 2018’s You Are Awesome) aimed at 8-14 year-old children, Dare To Be You.

I was first reminded of the well-trodden delicious warning; don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

An aphorism with its own wikipedia page and a raft of illustrious sources. From Confucius and Aristotle, to Shakespeare and Voltaire.

I’ve long since been a proponent of this thinking. From readily embracing beta testing, delivering something – no matter how small – every day, and not being afraid to try out a new idea that isn’t yet fully-formed.

#failfast is a modern umbrella manifestation grouping these.

It strikes me that this Curse Of Perfectionism can actually encourage less-than-perfect outcomes. People can fall into the trap of thinking that their present ‘good’ represents the ‘perfect’. It’s just about functional, so let’s not meddle.

Which rightly brings the scathing scorn of Syed;

“If it’s all about perfection, why would I ever take a risk? Why would I try something new? Why would I embrace change[*]? Because when you try something new, you’re not going to perfect the first time. You’re going to fail. You’re going to mess up. That’s part of how things evolve. And I think that people are not taking sensible risks that are part of what it is to grow and become stronger.”

I have suffered the pain of products not being launched because those developing them kept insisting it wasn’t quite how they wanted it. I have seen sales process strangulation because the team were unwilling to adopt a refinement mentality. I have tried to turnaround enterprise that has stood still when at the top, only to be reined in by competitors, in part encouraged to take them on because of seeing a lack of progress.

Not only can this lens be applied to your own sales endeavour, but think of its power when flipped onto your prospect’s plight or ambitions.

Buyers too I have witnessed fall into the crusher of this curse.

When is the one hundred percent perfect solution ever available?

How often have you assessed a purchase with a buyer and classified individual requirements into the classic trio; must-haves, nice-to-haves and don’t-really-needs?

* something I feel so strongly about, that I wrote an essay on this vital mindset; it is in the postface of my book, 101 Diagrams That Sell.

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