Overcoming TPA – The Perfection Affliction
Does everything have to be perfect for you to be happy? Then you may be suffering from TPA (The Perfection Affliction). Take a spoonful of ‘good enough’ with a glass of ‘finish it’ once a day until symptoms are gone. Perfection is another condition we sometimes place on our ability to experience happiness.
When God created the world, on the sixth day he said, “It is very good”. He didn’t say it was perfect. I figure, if ‘very good’ is good enough for God; it is certainly good enough for me. I believe perfection can become a form of self-abuse if it is at the expense of a greater good, or used as an excuse for not completing something because it’s not perfect yet. Don’t make perfection a prerequisite to your happiness in a job well done or a project finished.
As for me, I subscribe to a ‘very good’ motto. Heck, if I had waited for perfection I would not have started this blog.
Some newly married friends of mine who were building a small cabin kept getting into arguments over how things should be done. He was a perfectionist, and she just wanted to ‘get things done’. They were able to work things out by naming each other Mr. Perfectionist and Ms. Half-baked, and laughing about it. Of course, they called me Ms. Good Enough.
Perfection is relative. In business situations customer requirements usually define perfection. Many books are written about achieving excellence in the workplace by listening to customer’s desires.
At one company where I worked we spent a great deal of time designing the ‘perfect’ small power plant and responded to over 20 proposal requests in one month. The result was – no takers. Our plant was over built and thus overpriced. In our design we had considered requirements and the ‘human factor’ necessities like painted and color coded pipes just as we did for the nuclear plants we were accustomed to working on. It was a beautiful design. But you guessed it. Our steam plant customers didn’t need or want all the extras that are necessary in a nuclear plant. We failed to ask our customers what their idea of perfect was. Back to the drawing board. It was an expensive lesson.
Sometimes perfect is necessary, especially in the case of safety or when precision is required. We certainly want our surgeon to be perfect and precise when taking out our appendix. And, we want specific and stringent requirements that are well-defined and implemented in our nuclear power plants.
As another example, even though I am Ms. Good Enough, when I was erecting an aluminum greenhouse in my garden space, I knew If I didn’t get the foundation and base perfectly square and level, the rest of the frame would be off-square and the window panels wouldn’t fit. (But even then, there was a tiny bit of jiggle room. Ha, ha, I win.) Here is a picture of my greenhouse-build in progress.
The posts for my grapevine trellis, however, are not lined up perfectly. I encountered too many big rocks when digging the post holes and had to place two posts off-center. No big deal. It still does the job, and after the vines have spread you won’t even be able to see it. Here is a picture of my grapevine trellis.