There Is No Perfect

Image via  Wikimedia

Image via Wikimedia

In my last post, I referred to Will Smith's advice on building a wall, an analogy for accomplishing a huge task looming in front of us. I said take small perfect steps to accomplish your goals.

What do I mean by perfect?

Perfect is somewhat of a loaded word, because it implies that we can do something perfectly. It suggests that if we do something perfectly, if we write that perfect email, or land that perfect job interview, or we get that perfect opportunity, that everything will just work out.

The chances of us do anything perfectly is exactly nil, and even if we could do one thing perfectly, the rest is not going to just work out.

So what am I really saying? I'm saying to do the absolute best you can.

Growing up, my parents would always encourage me to do my best. Not be perfect or get straight A's or always get the right answer. It was just to do my best.

Doing our best is really all that we can ask of ourselves and others. Our best is, by definition, the best that we can do given the experience, tools, and situation we have to work with.

That doesn't mean just 'winging it' though. Our best involves preparation, dedication, and action. It means planning for the worst, even when we're expecting the best. It means pushing ahead when we think that we don't have anything left to give. It means accepting that we are limited in our abilities and yet still trying to do what some might think is impossible.

Later in that clip (6:05), Will talks about being realistic. He gives the example of big innovators of the past, including Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers, and how if they had succumbed to the idea of being realistic, we wouldn't have some of the invention that we take for granted today.

When you think of what you want to achieve in your life, be limitless, be unrealistic. When approaching the search for your passions, don't think about what might be possible under your current commitments, those constraints come later. Being unrealistic is what gets us excited and ready to go through the daily grind.

And then there are times to be realistic. When you look at what you can achieve and in a single day or single year, be realistic and understand that it's going to take time and persistence.

By asking for the impossible we obtain the best possible.
— Giovanni Niccolini

This is another of my favorite quotes.

We're aiming to lay that brick perfectly, understanding that there is no way to lay it perfectly. There's no way to take that perfect next step. But we still try to, because that's going to lead to the best wall that we can build.