‘Don’t wait for perfection’

'Don't wait for perfection'

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17th July,2023

The phrase “Perfect is the enemy of good” is often used to describe how people can get caught up in making things perfect and — as a result — never get anything done.

The origins of the phrase are actually from a French proverb by Voltaire, which says” l’ennemi du bien est le bien”

In 1971, Phil Knight was teaching accounting at Portland State University.

One day, he overheard a graphic design student say that she couldn’t afford to take a painting class.

Knight paid her $35 to design a logo for his start-up shoe company.

When he saw the design, he said,

“I don’t know if I like it, but maybe it will grow on me.”

Knight didn’t have time to fuss over the logo. “We had a deadline,” he explains. He had signed a contract with a factory to produce 3,000 pairs of Nike’s first shoe. “Production was starting on the shoe that Friday.”

Before then, they needed a logo.

“You don’t like it?” Knight’s chief operating officer asked of the student’s design.

“I don’t love it,” Knight said, “but we’re out of time. It’ll have to do.”

It’s said that if not for constraints and deadlines, nothing would get made.

George Lucas, for instance, worked on drafts of the first Star Wars for years. “I never arrived at a degree of satisfaction where I thought the screenplay was perfect,” he said.

But then he struck a deal with a movie executive from United Artists—”At that point, it became an obligation,” Lucas said.

“If I hadn’t been forced to shoot the film, I would doubtless still be rewriting it now.”

Chance encounters can also make you a millionaire.

At Nike’s IPO in 1980, Phil Knight gave the student who designed the Swoosh 500 shares.

She never sold.

Since the IPO, there have been 7 stock splits and those 500 shares have become 64,000 shares. At the time of this writing, Nike is at $110/share.

$110/share x 64,000 shares = $7,040,000.

Effective work is about moving toward the desired destination, and not necessarily about ensuring that nothing gets spilled or knocked over in the process.

Mistakes will happen. Missteps will occur.

It’s momentum that matters, and ensuring that time is not wasted obsessing over the little things that won’t end up moving the needle anyway.

I am reminded here of these two beautiful quotes: Confucius said, “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”

And, of course, there’s Shakespeare: “Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.”

The truth is, tomorrow’s idea will always be better. Every day you’ll improve, and you’ll see what you can change, adjust and make better. So it’s not about waiting to get it perfect before you implement it, share it or release it; rather, it’s about getting a working version out the door and then refining over time.

If you wait too long to release your product, launch your service or expand your company you’ll become stagnant. You will lose momentum, and what was once an exciting idea will feel tired and difficult to implement.

Don’t wait for perfection, start today & stay blessed forever.