I only play to win.
I’ll do it, but it has to be perfect.
Ever find yourself thinking something like that?
I remember reading about Apple and the culture that Steve Jobs built. They strive for perfection.
In our culture, we idolize perfection, flawlessness, high-performance, exacting results.
It’s not necessarily bad to strive for these things. The question is how you get there.
But what does perfection actually mean in the context of the highly fluid environment we live in?
Sure, the iPhone 3G was design perfection, when it first came out. I would wager most do not think that’s the case now, Apple included.
Easily forgotten in the pursuit of perfection is the transience of victory.
Playing to Win
I used to think that I would only play games if I could win.
I was afraid of losing. I hated losing.
I thought that only playing games I could win meant that I was focused on winning. That I was a winner.
Far from it.
It just meant I lost out on a lot of playing time.
And I realized I wasn’t getting any better, because I depriving myself of the best possible practice. The real deal.
No matter how much you practice, there’s something about getting in, taking the chances, and being in the circumstances that is uniquely enlightening.
You can think in a vacuum. Theorize. Hypothesize.
But that’s all it is. You can say “I expect it to be like this”. That’s not as good as getting up close and taking a look.
Decisions are different under pressure. Perspective is different.
You’ll notice things that you just didn’t think of.
I care about learning and getting better. And that helps me win. But I’m not trying to avoid losing. Some of the best lessons come from the biggest failures.
So winning isn’t everything. Perfection isn’t everything.
Perfect is the enemy of the good.
I used to think that “good enough” was just average. And in many cases, it was. But that’s a short-sighted perspective.
If “good enough” was the standard that I held myself to, that’s not a good thing.
But it worked wonders as part of a bigger strategy. For me, perfection was paralyzing. So being “good enough” meant I still had something to show. Most importantly, it meant I had something to build on. A foundation, not the finished house.
I’ll get it to “good enough”, then get some feedback to make it better.
I’ll get it to “good enough”, then keep trying.
I’ll publish this “good enough” piece, but I will publish more and strive to make “good enough” 1% better each time.
“Good enough” means that you draw a line, and you deliver what you can under the circumstances. Sometimes you’ll have a chance to make it better, and other times you won’t.
There’s a weird thing that happens too, the longer something takes. As you think you’re taking the extra time to make it perfect, people’s expectations slowly increase the longer they wait. You are quite literally chasing a moving target.
And understanding the situation you’re in is half the battle. Sometimes you only have one shot, and other times, you can try as much as you like, so long as you’re successful on one of them.
But it’s a longer term vision: more practice, more output, more shots on goal. It’s hard not to get better even if you tried.