Perfectionism vs. Mastery

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, skmurphy

Mastery’s great accomplishments require time and a willingness to release a sequence of prototypes. Perfectionism means you don’t ship until it’s perfect. Which means you never ship or what you ship has not learned from problems or needs that only visible post deployment.

Randall Munroe’s “The General Problem” embeds this observation:

“I find that when someone’s taking time to do something right in the present, they’re a perfectionist with no ability to prioritize, whereas when someone took time to do something right in the past, they’re a master artisan of great foresight.”
Randall Munroe in “The General Problem

No Significant Accomplishment Was Easy

When we look back at a significant accomplishment we miss all of  the groundwork, the necessary trial and error, the sequence of working prototypes giving way to working solutions that were successive approximations to the final masterpiece. Eric Hoffer captured this in “Our achievements speak for themselves. What we have to keep track of are our failures, discouragements, and doubts. We tend to forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, and the painful groping. We see our past achievements as the end result of a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay.”

Bootstrappers make this same mistake either when they try and proceed directly to a business model that maps to a large and successful business or they focus only on the final fully instantiated version of their idealized business or product.  We have to become comfortable with making things viable and then better over time.

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