Not Perfect is Good

Bleach, Chapter 306. This manga chapter sent chills down my spine.

My poetry professor used to say when someone experienced this, it meant your brain made a new connection — that you unlocked a new understanding.

For a quick paraphrase of the comic chapter, here’s the dialogue:

Perfect does not exist in this world. It may seem like a cliche phrase, but that’s the truth. Obviously mediocre fools will forever lust for ‘perfection’ and seek it out; however, what meaning is there in ‘perfection’?
None. Not a bit.
After perfection there exists nothing higher. Not even the room for creation, which means there is not even room for wisdom and talent. Even if something is created that is more magnificent than anything before, it still will be far from perfect. People are constantly struggling with that antinomy. In short, perfection would be despair.

Not perfect is good — that’s the core value a company needs. Forget all the other “do-good-shit” attitudes and “let’s deliver an awesome experience!” Instead, let’s remember perfection is impossible. It would cut 99% of the ego-maniacs demanding “this” has to be done “this way,” or it spells doom.

If we understood that no matter what we do, there’s always room to grow and do better, then maybe people would take work (and life) a lot easier. They would instead focus on the learning from each “this.” Mellow lessons, as I’d trademark it.

Bleach, chapter 306: Not Perfect is Good.

It’s not a mission to do okay-ish or settle for less. It’s an understanding. As we look to make something better, there’s always a “more better.” Basically, it’s what you learn from watching Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights. If you ain’t first, you’re last — c’mon now … you know better.

Naturally, at work, we pursue perfection. Companies want to be the best. Companies make claims to be #1, just like Ricky Bobby. But what does that do?

If you’ve ever studied business strategy under Michael Porter, you know “being #1” is something you should avoid trying to be (or do).

The key to competitive success is the company’s ability to be unique. Creating value, not beating rivals, is at the heart of competition. Aim to be unique, not the best. Why?

By aiming to be unique, you’re focusing on how to get better. You’re not focused on being perfect. As Zhuang Zhou, an old Chinese philosopher, would say:

You cannot tell people to be perfect when they don’t know what perfect is in the first place. (You can also replace perfect with best.)

Being the best is impossible. What is the best? How do you define best? And if everyone starts copying your best business method, then is it still the best? Everyone just starts making the same pitch. Think about airline companies. Now, all they do is compete on price … certainly a place no business wants to venture into.

Instead of one-upping everyone, try to be unique. It’s how companies like Google and Apple got to their positions. They created something unique, disrupted traditional methods, and solidified their position. Of course, now other companies compete on their “unique-ness.” We now have Bing, DuckDuckGo, Android smartphones, etc. But we all know who continues to stand on top … the companies who focus on value and being unique.

So, remember … not perfect is good. When you think you’re on top, or you think you way is “right,” — remember there’s always an alternative “better” way you haven’t thought of yet. Take it easy. Continue marching.