Hooray for Imperfect

Embrace the progressive power of eff’ing up

Everyone wants to do their best work.

In any discipline, be it writing, art, development or even project management, our desire to smack walk off outta-the-park homers is real. It’s also ridiculous.

Stop trying

Many a intellect and profound visionary have long philosophized that perfection is, well, pointless.

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” — Confucius

Nowadays, the modern spin floating around the digital well is, “Perfect is the enemy of the good”. Short a sparkly metaphor, the mantra still imperfectly makes the point — don’t go for infallible when good can actually be great.

What’s perfect and who’s to judge

So, what’s in a pithy line? To start, defining “perfect” is subjective as hell. Who gets to say what is and isn’t? Shooting for a mysterious perfect distorts expectation, intimidates action and can actually stifle us from doing anything decent, let alone at all.

Perfect is an ambiguous, elusive utopian concept not rooted in reality. Ever seen the lush, harmonious paradise of Shangri-La? Settle for a sandy beach in the Bahamas instead.

As for the “good,” that’s the product of which we must measure ourselves against. They are timelines, budgets and other project constraints. Aside ourselves, they directly impact our ability to do our best. But they also provide direction to work toward.

The reality: strike a balance of doing your best with the limitations you’ve to work with.

Put imperfect into practice

As humans, getting stuff wrong is what we do. Repeatedly. It took thousands of millennia of screw-ups to get to a beautifully imperfect now. Our lives and its work are no different.

Embracing the imperfect takes time and doesn’t come easy, so start simply. Instead of writing a magnum opus, pick off a couple small essays. Developing a website — maybe land on a landing page. Trying to eat smarter? A salad wrap is better than fried rice.

Remember that getting to the good takes time. Our first and best rarely, if ever, coincide. Stop going for pure, unflawed gold.

Just do your damnedest due diligence.


John Pomietlasz is the world’s best copywriter at Parliament.