Perfection is improving something until it is faultless but it's totally subjective what ‘faultless’ is. While perfection may exist as a ‘concept’, it doesn't exist in reality.
If you ask ANY artist, musician, designer about their work, I guarantee there is something they would change about it to make it better. In fact, I hope that every bit of work I produce I can see ways to make it better. That's what learning is.
Trying to make something perfect often prevents us from making something good.
What is forgotten in the middle of a creative endeavour is that good is sometimes enough. If you strive for perfection every time you're essentially chasing the impossible and will be left feeling deflated and unsatisfied. If you can accept a solid ‘good’ then feelings of contentment and satisfaction will prevail.
In reality, well, in the design world anyway, good really is good enough. If you take your own ego out of the equation and truly focus your design on creating the best solution for your clients problem then good should do the job.
Removing your ego is the key in my experience. That is hard to do if you spend hours a day pawing through social media looking at people's amazing design projects. It's easy to get overwhelmed by ‘The Gap’ between your taste and your skill.
Luckily, clients don’t do that. Well, not at least to the same micro level that I do. When I present a new design to a client, they are not mentally comparing my technical skill to the rest of the design world like I am. They are thinking “does this fix my problem?”
The answer is almost always yes because once you stop worrying about being the next award winning designer and focus on the clients needs then the design becomes theirs and not yours - which makes it so much easier to get right.
I’m not suggesting that handing over mediocre work is acceptable but you just have to stop being so hard on yourself. The client really doesn’t care if you extend the cross bar of the ‘F’ by 1mm!
In the worst case, the idea of perfection can prevent us from even getting started in the first place.
At the start of this year I had two things I wanted to do. Number 1, get better at writing which is why you're reading this blog and Number 2, start to run.
To give you some context, I hadn't run since the last indoor netball game I played for the Hutt Hospital (mums work team) in my last year of Uni - a good 16-17 years ago now. I’d been quite a happy smoker for a good 15 years and riding my bike to gigs across Melbourne was the most exercise I got in my twenties. My thirties started off well but it didn’t take long for reality to hit, if I wanted to start a family I’d need to make some lifestyle changes. I started swimming and dropped the drunken night rides.
At age 37, I now have a 3 and 4 year old who do nothing but run - all day, every day. While swimming was keeping me fit(ish), I certainly wasn’t keeping up with the kids.
When I heard people say they were ‘runners’ I used to cringe. “I can’t run” I’d tell anyone that asked. Which is total BS. Of course I can run, I just hadn’t done it for nearly 20 years. I wasn’t going to be good at it but I have legs and I have lungs.
On January 1st 2020, I went for a run. I wore my pajama T’shirt, a 20 year old pair of shorts from highschool and my new balance 574. I was a horrible, sweaty mess. I couldn’t breathe, I had to use Alice’s inhaler and I nearly threw up. But I ran.
Instead of waiting for the right time, the right running outfit, the right anything I just started running. I have now been running 3 to 4 days a week for 9 months. I still feel like I’m having a heart attack everytime but I don’t need the inhaler anymore. An unexpected benefit is the clarity that comes from running at 6 in the morning when no one else is around - it's doing wonders for my mental health!
The point of this story is that I didn’t let perfection get in the way of good. I will NEVER be a ‘perfect runner’ - I’m still in awe of the people who casually run past me in their tailored lycras, barely breaking a sweat, chatting away to each other. I’m huffing past, in the long johns I got new for my 6th form school camp, a high-vis vest from work and my “Design Dept” cap (I highly recommend making your own merch to boost morale).
It doesn’t matter that I’m not good. I started. I’m glad I did considering all of the pools have been shut for most of the year!
Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.
In his writings, a wise Italian
Said that the best is the enemy of the good.
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