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Friday, November 04, 2011

Good and Perfect Just Don't Get Along

Jim Collins wrote the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't in which he said "The good is the enemy of the great." Which is to say that settling for good-enough can keep us from ever achieving anything great. However Voltaire said: "The perfect is the enemy of the good." Which encourages us to give up the pursuit of perfection so that we can achieve something of worth. So, who's right?

Can't it be both?

Collins is talking about building a lasting impacting business. When businesses settle for good-enough solutions, they begin a process of decline that undermines everything they do. Even when individuals settle in a professional sense, they devalue the creative work that they're doing. Good robs us of great.

However, when the pursuit of greatness paralyzes us and keeps us from moving forward at all, then we fail. If we have to be perfect before we'll attempt anything then we'll do nothing. More than that, if we apply our professional standards to every area of our lives, we'll suffer burnout and depression. We have to be able to let things that are not important be done in a good-enough manner. Perfection isn't necessary and it robs us of the chance to be good.

With whom do you tend to agree more, Voltaire or Collins?

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