Eric McNeal Online Blog

Blog articles written by Eric McNeal where I discuss everything and then some.

Why Perfection Is Ruining Your Life!

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Let's face it. We all get caught in the perfection trap from time to time. We are working on something, but it never gets completed because we want it to be "PERFECT." And even worse, we may finish it, but it never sees the light of day simply because we don't think it's perfect. Well, there is no such thing as perfection. It's simply a goal to strive for.  

I recall working at Microsoft as an intern one summer many years ago. I was on the Microsoft Word testing team and my job was to find bugs in the software using a combination of scripting and ad-hoc testing. In fact, you can thank me for the little red sqiggly line that most browsers and software place under misspelled words. Well, I didn't come up with the idea of the sqiggly line, but it was me who found the bug that lead to that red squiggly line. Read More 

 

During my intern, Microsoft was gearing up to release their latest version of Microsoft Word. It would include a new dynamic spell check feature. This feature would automatically detect misspelled words while you were typing. It doesn't seem exciting today, but twenty-two years ago it was revolutionary. When the original code was written, it put a straight red line underneath the misspelled word. However, I discovered that if a user then underlined the word it would cancel out the red line so that the user could no longer see the red line indicating a misspelled word. Within a couple days of me logging the bug, the developer who was working on this feature came up with a workable solution. He simple made the red line into a squiggly line so that it would not interfere with an underlined word or vice versa. But, I digress

My point is that it was at Microsoft that I learned not to be blinded by perfection. We found many bugs in the software, but the software worked great. It was not perfect. In fact, there is no perfect software. Every time you fix one bug, you create more bugs inside the software that have yet to be discovered. And if Microsoft attempted to fix every conceivable bug in every product they offer, then the company would still be trying to complete their very first product. Or better yet, the company that became the largest software company in the world and started by the guy who became the richest man on earth would have long gone broke.

To be quite honest, perfect people don't make mistakes. But they also don't make money, they don't make decisions, etc. In fact, perfect people don't make much of anything, because they can never seem to get anything completed or finalize important decisions. I've witnessed this with students and working on projects as well as entrepreneurs trying to get their business idea launched. You must pull the trigger and move on. You can make improvements along the way. The important thing is just not become paralyzed by fear that your project isn't perfect.

Of course this doesn't mean that you shouldn't take pride in what you do, but you simply can't get wrapped up chasing perfection. So, stop chasing perfection and replace it with excellence instead. We are all capable of producing excellent quality work. The key is to simply understand what your given time frame and budget is for producing your required deliverable and stick to that schedule. In the end, if you complete your project to the best of your ability on time and within budget, then this is as close to perfection as one achieves. 

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