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Are You Willing to be an Imperfectionist?

Last week, I spent most of my time working on updating the ManageTrainLearn e-learning courses. (Coming soon to a website near you!)

When I say "most of the time", I mean that 20% of the time went like a dream and I updated 80% of the courses without a hitch. However, 80% of the time went on trying to resolve a handful of less than 20% of the courses.

(And if those aren't good examples of the 80-20 Pareto principle, I don't know what are.)

The reason why I spent so much time trying to fix a handful of courses that wouldn't play ball was that, when it comes to getting things right, I'm a perfectionist.

When other people see the big picture and what they're doing right, my brain slips into seeing all the little details and what I'm doing wrong.

I should know better.

If, like me, you have a strong perfectionist streak in your make-up, you'll have spent a lifetime agonising over the 20% of things that didn't work rather than the 80% that did.

Well, last week, in the middle of my frustrating battle with the DHTML and the file transfers, I had a eureka moment, triggered first by the excessive amount of time I was taking and secondly by a blog from my friend Scott Ginsberg.

Scott happened to be writing about the very thing I was resisting: imperfection.

And, in his own inimitable way, he was championing all the things that make perfectionists like me uncomfortable, but that we most need to learn.

Like showing your vulnerability; believing that people really want the real, honest and imperfect you; easing back on the need to see perfection in others; learning to live in shades of grey, rather than good-bad, right-wrong; and "walking the halls" with an attitude of confident uncertainty.

In short, Scott was saying that there really isn't anything wrong with imperfection. It's what makes you more human and it's what people identify with and buy into.

So, that's a good lesson learnt.

In future, I hope the lesson will come back to me whenever I find myself spending up to 80% of my time on up to 20% of my problems.

As U. S. Anderson said in "The Magic Of Your Mind", "When imperfectness enters a man's soul, he is able to show that he does not live in the world alone but with millions of others in whose hearts exists the same animating spirit."

Or, to quote Scott Ginsberg, "What would happen to your career if you were known as the biggest imperfectionist in your company?"

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