10 September 2007

The torture of perfection.

Being a perfectionist is hard work and often those of us afflicted with this character feature struggle when working with others who don’t meet our expectations. I am certainly a perfectionist in many aspects of my work. I have tried to change but it just won’t stick. The real problem is that it can be very draining to try and make everything one hundred percent right all of the time.

I think that many small business owners are perfectionists, certainly many are not. For those that are, we must learn to compromise in some way otherwise we tend to drive ourselves and those around us, insane. It takes an enormous amount of energy to be the one aspiring for perfection in all that is done.

As much as I struggle with the concept, sometimes near enough is good enough. It is simply too challenging to make every single aspect of a business perfect, especially when there are other people involved. Their perception of what is acceptable and what is not is in all likelihood completely different from yours.

So how do we perfectionists overcome this issue? I try the following and they seem to work well for me:

1. Communicate really well on what I expect in terms of the products and services that we deliver.
2. I have made a mental priority scale of what is really important and what is not and I focus my perfectionist tendencies on the really important stuff.
3. I have realised that other people may do things differently but that doesn’t mean they are wrong.
4. I closely monitor customer feedback regarding quality control. They will tell me if things are slipping.
5. Sometimes I just walk away – let the individuals do what they do and don’t get involved.

It is great to be good at what you do. It is even better to be really committed to producing the very best quality products and services you can. But at some stage, you have to learn to let go and accept that perfection is nice, but excellent is OK.

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