Brandon Eleuterio

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Perfectionism is the Enemy of Quality

Brandon Eleuterio
Perfection is Stagnation
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When building something for others, whether that something is software, a book, or some other craft, and whether you are an individual, a start-up, or a large company, revealing your work to the world can be scary. What will my audience think? Will my work be rejected and, by extension, will I be rejected? Will I be fired? It has to be perfect. Or does it?

There are two competing philosophies in the arena of creating for others: Quality and Perfectionism. Let’s take a look at how these philosophies alleviate or exasperate our fear. But first, what are they?

Quality

Get your work in front of people quickly. It may fail. That’s okay. Get feedback. Fix it fast. Repeat.

Perfectionism

Slowly craft the ideal work. Every detail is taken into account. Just as perfection is unachievable, the final reveal may never happen. It may not work. That would be devastating. Keep it to yourself. It will never fail. It will never succeed.

Quality is low risk

You constantly improve based on customer feedback. Mistakes are fewer, customers are happier, and fixes are fast.

Perfectionism is high risk

You take the time to meticulously build what you think customers want. When you finally reveal your finished product, you’ll find that mistakes are more numerous, larger, and take longer to fix.

Quality is collaborative

Incorporating constant customer feedback, you are building a product together. This is not just your personal vision, but a work that involves and pleases your customers.

Perfectionism is lonely

Hide your work continuing to improve it until you achieve the arbitrary unreachable goal of perfection – in your own mind, not in the mind of your customers. You build in isolation and hope others will see your personal vision.

Quality is low stress

When you release your work, the build-up is small. If you completely miss, you take comfort in the fact that you’ll quickly learn what your customers want and can take tiny steps to get there together.

Perfectionism is high stress

When you release, the build-up is large. You’ve invested a large amount of time and resources. If you completely miss, you fear that it was a waste and you’ll have to double your efforts becoming even more meticulous and spending even more time approaching perfection.

Quality is Calm

Your fears of failure fade into the background as you become comfortable with small, quick repeated failures and small, quick repeated triumphs. With each failure, you learn more about what your audience wants, and together, you calmly approach a collaborative vision of better.

Perfectionism is Scary

When you finally reveal a huge chunk of blood, sweat, and tears to the world you are relieved. But, that relief quickly turns to fear. What if my customers reject my perfect vision? What if it’s not perfect enough? Will my customers leave?

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