Friday, March 27, 2009

"The Perfect as the Enemy of the Good"

I didn't know what I was going to write about today and it almost became a crisis. I sat a few minutes ago and thought to myself . . . do I want to let this day go by without a post? Do I want to let go of the arbitrary idea of writing a post every day? Let's say I accomplish it. What does that mean? Does it make me better or worse or nothing at all?

But I figured I'd at least put in an effort.

But when I sat down to write, well, what?

So, I flipped over to Blogger and looked at my Dashboard. I selected the drafts item and the computer pulled up all of the ideas I've started but never completed. All of the posts that started out with an inspiration but maybe never went past a title. Some have some quickly jotted notes. Some have a few paragraphs and then . . . stop . . . 

I decided to try and do something with this one, based mostly on the title that was sitting there. I remember that when I first started this post, back in January, I was struck by the fact that I heard that phrase "the perfect as the enemy of the good" several times in one week. And I don't think I had ever heard it before.

Based on the timing, I suspect that one aspect of this phrase came from something about President Obama's inauguration and speculation about what sort of president he might be. As I interpret the phrase, we cannot let the idea of a perfect solution inhibit our ability to BEGIN down the path of accomplishing a task. Essentially, its a restatement of that old phrase--"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Or, you can't let the forest prevent you from appreciating the trees. And other stuff like that.

Continuing with the political angle, we all know that the economy is in a mess. And there are lots of ideas on how to fix it. And Obama's opponents have many opinions about how he is tasking others and how those others are tackling the problem. But with a problem so large, how does one begin? And what is the best solution to such a complicated problem that stretches out in all directions? I guess one solution that folds into "the perfect as the enemy of the good" is that we/they should start doing something rather than continue thinking about what ELSE we might be doing.

Lynda and I are people that want to be right and to Get It Right. We have, at times, struggled against the need to accomplish perfection. But I am better able to throw something out there and refine it later. (As evidenced--or not?--by the majority of my blog posts over the last several years.) She is more apt to be paralyzed by the unfinished nature of her work and the details of everything between Step 1 and Step 1000.

So, my advice to all of you (and you KNOW who you are) is to take that step. Don't be paralyzed by the unknown or the unfinished path that stretched ahead. Take the step and look for the good as you travel down the path. You might still reach something much more perfect than you expected.

No comments: