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Refusing to Pay the Price of Perfectionism: A Blast From the Past

**Posted on the Prior Version of this Blog: 2017-03-21**

Hi, my name is Herb and I am a perfectionist.

Prefectionism is very expensive. The price you pay to be a perfectionist is you can do nothing if you do not do it perfectly. So you start out only doing a handful of things that you know you can do perfectly. However, you are human. After you have done something you find the imperfections and swear to do it better next time.

The problem is the handful of things you thought you could do perfectly are things you are already very good at doing. Thus, learning from your mistakes doesn’t provide huge gains like it would in something you have done only once. Eventually, you realize you can’t do it perfectly either and give up on doing that thing.

The ultimate price of perfectionism is statis. You can not do anything because it will not be perfect.

Which brings me to this:

Work bench unstained.

Starting on Saturday, March 4th, I began building a workbench. I want to make some things and while I made the first on my game room table I really needed a work bench where sawdust won’t be a problem and a power tool error won’t do lasting damage. My wife, next door neighbor, and the kid my wife hired to do our law have all said it looks great.

I know it is a piece of junk. I mean, look at the piss poor finish where I let the stain containing polyurethane run. Look at the fact that the framing isn’t square. Look at all the boards I didn’t get completely flat and straight. Look at… Look at…

I could have put pictures of each of those errors up. I didn’t. Instead, I fought myself not to take them.

The reality is this is the first big thing I’ve made out of wood. The reality is it will work for its intended purpose. The reality is the last stages of construction went better than earlier ones because I learned things in building it. The reality is the first thing I build with it will be better than it both because I will have it as a tool to use in building things and because of what I learned building it.

By saving myself a cost, specifically the cost of being a perfectionist, I have more than I would have if I’d been a perfectionist about the bench. Most obviously I now have a workbench. Less obviously is I am not better at working with wood because instead of trying to be perfect and doing nothing I did something imperfectly and learned from the imperfections.

If I gained so much by not paying the price of perfectionism why did I ever pay that price in the first place?

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