The Ageless Mind – Perfection is . . .
Perfection is the enemy of. . . ? Dr. Google has several possibilities – good, progress, done, profitability, excellence – the list goes on.
Whatever word you choose, the meaning is clear – waiting until something is perfect generally means that it won’t get done.
I thought about this as I sat down to write this blog. Having just celebrated a significant birthday (that means one with a 0 in it, and some reference to four score and something or other), I wanted to create the perfect post.
First of all, I had to pick the perfect topic. Should it be about aging, acquiring wisdom, surviving the pandemic that is picking off seniors at a rather alarming rate? Should I be passing on all the wisdom I have garnered over the years? Perhaps I should be advocating for seniors stuck in deplorable long-term care facilities and who do not have a family to advocate for them. Or maybe I should just pass on, with appropriate attribution of course, the wisdom of someone else.
After the perfect topic has been selected, then the perfect treatment has to be decided. It could be uplifting and motivating; humorous and self deprecating; erudite and scholarly; or informative and educational.
Finally, the writing, the perfect writing, has to occur. Have I used the right word? Is there a better word, more precise, more descriptive, more evocative? And punctuation! Commas and semi-colons should not appear randomly I’ve been told.
As I contemplated creating the perfect blog entry, a memory intruded into my mind. In the early 80s I was a Manager of Training with a Government department and I had my very own secretary (that’s what they were called then). She had gone to my boss complaining that I was too picky about the letters she typed for me and made her redo letters that had typos in them. (This happened before computers when the IBM Selectric was the height of secretarial status).
I told my boss, with appropriate indignation, that I didn’t want letters under my name going out if there were spelling mistakes. He gently pointed out that having her do and re-do letters numerous times until they were perfect was not a good use of her time. “Besides”, he added, “three quarters of the managers who get them don’t spell any better than she does and will probably not even catch the mistakes”. Well, I knew an order when I heard one, no matter how gently it was wrapped so I went back to my office and thought.
The resolution was relatively simple. I called her into my office and said that she knew what she as doing with the training and there was no need for me to write letters to everyone explaining the schedule. Why didn’t she just take on that job, sign the letters herself, and give herself an additional title “Training assistant”?
The result? She was happier, office efficiency improved, and believe it or not, the letters that went out under her name had fewer mistakes.
The lesson? It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to work.