The Perfect Problem

If you ask my many family and friends they will tell you that I had severe obsessive-compulsive disorder as a kid that continued until my late 20’s. I still have some tendencies, however, the biggest difference now is that I’m able to move on faster and they don’t get in the way of what I want to get done…most of the time.
There was a when it would take me 30-60 minutes to set my alarm clock before bed. Or ten minutes longer than it should to get ready for a football or soccer game because I didn’t like how it felt when I put my uniform on. I would turn off the lights to a room, only to go back and forth 10-20 times until I was fully satisfied with how the light switch “felt” when I turned it off. About 15 years ago I would take my clothes to the laundromat and they would wash and fold them….except I would then re-fold every single piece because it was not right!
My problem now is much less severe. It takes me about 3 minutes to set my alarm now, and I can leave a room without a hitch. I still have some order issues with my desk that need to be “perfect” it’s much improved. And my wife is thrilled that I still like to fold my own laundry.
I’m not certain about how the idea of progress over perfection started to change, but I’m thankful it has.
Often people are proud, claiming to be a “perfectionist”. Striving to have everything be perfect for them. Even worse, waiting for the perfect time.
Yet the older (see more mature in the personal and business sense) I get, the more I realize that Winston Churchill was correct; “perfection is the enemy of progress.”
I see it happening every single day. It’s the unhealthy person that says they want to make changes to get healthy, but then makes up every excuse about why they can’t get started. The business owner needs to make a decision, but instead frets over petty unimportant issues because the situation isn’t perfect for them to take the next step. I talk to “would be” business owners on a daily basis hoping to do something. Some day. Hoping and wishing aren’t strategies to make progress. Waiting for the “perfect” time will have you waiting forever.
I see it all the time now. I can’t believe it took me so long to put this together. Many people brag they are “perfectionist” but only because screaming, “I’m afraid to fail” doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous!
Now I hate “perfect”. It gets in your head and keeps you from making decisions, taking action and working to improve.
Making decisions and taking action despite having the exact road map for where you’re headed is essential to getting what you want. Consider this idea the next time you’re driving somewhere you’ve been a thousand times and there is an accident or construction that forces you to find another way. You know that you won’t sit and wait until you can pass. You’ll make the simple decision (or ask Siri) to travel on a lesser known path to get to where you need to be.
Don’t be fooled into “perfect”. There is no such thing.