The Daily Stoic for August 10th. “Perfection Is The Enemy Of Action”.
“We don’t abandon our pursuits because we despair of ever perfecting them.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.2.37b
Today’s stoic refers to this psychological cognitive distortion called “all or nothing”. It’s a way of thinking that involves polarizing all possible results of an action into positive or negative extremes. Either something is a total success, or it’s a complete disaster.
This way of thinking is more usual than we think, and we all show it one way or another. Basically, it’s what prevent us from starting anything new because we are afraid the result is not going to be perfect.
Perfection Is The Enemy Of Action, Isn’t It?
Some stoics ago, I wrote about perfection, and how I believe that imperfection is not only something desirable, but necessary to start new projects. A little bit of naivety is necessary to avoid our ultra-rational minds ruining our chances of creating something amazing.
Not only this obsession with perfection may sabotage our project before it’s even started, but sometimes, especially in the arts, imperfection is beautiful. In fact, imperfection is, in my view, what makes the work of an artist stand out against the noise.
In business, it’s essential to get rid of this desire of perfection. Especially during the early stages of the business, there will be lots of imperfect processes, things that could be automated, unpolished software and products… And that’s OK. If you aim for perfection, your project will never be launched.
So embrace imperfection. Forget perfection. Aim for progress instead.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Perfection is the enemy of action”, insists on the need of getting rid of perfection. In the era of Instagram, we should acknowledge that the real world is imperfect, and seeking perfection can only lead us to frustration.