Category Archives: #danfogelberg

Doing the Job Perfectly, er, Perfectly Imperfect


So, I knew a man once who often said, “Good enough for who it’s for.” I used to bristle at that, because I was really good at judging people and felt superior to most people most of the time, and thought he meant that the job could be cruddy because the recipient of the job wasn’t all that valuable. He was kidding (sort of). Of course, there is a sense in which there is some truth to the idea that sometimes something is good enough though it is not perfect. Indeed, perfection isn’t even possible a lot of the time.

I once knew another man whose actions seemed to say, “It can never be good enough unless it is perfect.” And he did damn fine work. Took forever and a day, but the precision was unmatched.

When I am with someone who places that high of a value on precision, I can turn into the purple minion, because I slip back into that place of judgment, thinking that I know something about how much time any particular person should spend on any particular job. But, I so do not.

Yesterday, while I worked on my kitchen, I was the perfect example of the saying, “Work expands to fill the available time.” Had I an appointment on my calendar for 11:30, or 12:30, I would have had to finish the job, or at least get to a stopping place. Instead, I just kept emptying out more cabinets, and making bigger piles of stuff to deal with. There are still a few little pieces to finish up today.

My friend who is SO good at the work he does often allows the work to expand the fill the available time, and sometimes puts off other important things to continue on the work.

How does this relate to shipping and creating?

1. Having a deadline and/or parameters help me get the work done, even if it is not perfect. I have been blogging every day now for 50 days today, and that is because I have the parameter of writing a post every single day. Without that intention, my blog would be more like it was in 2009-2014 where I blogged sporadically and terribly inconsistently.

2. Focusing on perfection can easily become a reason not to ship or create. After all, when I sew something, I ALWAYS do something wrong in the process. Sometimes the wrong thing can be fixed. Sometimes it cannot without starting completely again from the beginning. My blog posts are certainly not perfect, and too much emphasis on perfection for me is going to preclude consistent shipping.

3. As my favorite author, Adrian Plass, says: Everybody is I. What works for me and meets my needs to get me shipping isn’t necessarily applicable to everyone. Others who focus on creating things of the highest quality have a place in the world. Probably my favorite Dan Fogelberg song speaks to this idea. There is room in the world for all of us. (Note: one of the reasons I am not perfect at things is because I often have a little person talking to me, “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.” So, friends, I couldn’t find a video of the song that would play here on my blog, but you can watch this on YouTube.)

4. Should I ever get to the place where I actually sit down to write a book, that will definitely be a slower process than blogging is. There will be much revising, editing, rewriting. I still don’t think my book will ever be perfect, but perhaps it will be perfectly imperfect. For me, perfectly imperfect is quite perfect enough.

Where can you embrace perfect imperfection today?