Earlier this week, a new billboard (see below) went up across the street from my apartment building. Every morning on my way to the gym or Starbucks, the message (not the beer) winks at me, challenging my own personal belief system by asserting that perfection has to have a price tag attached to it — and more importantly, that the pursuit of perfection is what makes life worth living. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “If there was nothing wrong in the world there wouldn’t be anything for us to do.” Thoughts?
22 thoughts on “Does Perfection Have to Have a Price?”
Perfection has a price. Mostly it is in the form of time.
In personal life, if we try to always keep our family happy by providing high quality contributions from our side, that is also one step close to perfection.
In service industry, if we get a good hold over providing high quality results on time, it can be attributed to be closer to perfection. (In business, people can debate that time is money, but improving efficiency using smarter ideas will make the money worth the investment.
Not sure if perfection can be exactly measured, but as long as we make sure that we are better than what we were the day before, every single day, I think we move one step closer to perfection.
Just my thoughts.
“If there was nothing wrong in the world there wouldn’t be anything for us to do.”
“Perfection has a price.”
I see no contradiction between those two points. Granted, that’s probably not what Interbrew are going for, but…
Lol beer is nothing more than water with few vegetables thrown in. It will take more than a billboard to convince me that it has a “price” attached to it.
Personally I strive for excellence, perfection just isn’t worth it.
Perfection does not exist. Excellence on the other hand has a price tag. There is a big investment that goes into it and as such, it commands a big return. However, watch out; not everyone achieves excellence regardless of the investment.
In my experience, the price for perfection is too high to pay. People ruin their relationships and their health over it — and always fall short because it is some kind of unreachable projection. I’ll vote with the other guys for pursuing excellence, learning from our mistakes and kicking back with a good beer (not Stella!) once in a while.
Yes perfection does have a price it forces you really know what you are doing in and out. It isn’t something you pay it’s something you do because you want do whatever you are doing honestly.
There is no such thing as “perfect”. There is however such as thing as really trying to please your customers and really trying to make the best product you can make.
Starbucks is the perfect example of neither. They sell very bad coffee that’s expensive in locations that do not feel cozy. It feels like an assembly line of coffee. I am not surprised they are doing poorly. The problem with publicly traded companies is that doing things very well (i.e. things that take TIME) usually means less profits. So they pursue the short-term gain. That is where they err.
If you have ever been to Japan where people put a premium on good customer service and very good food, wrapping packages like mochi cakes with great care, even in train stations, and presenting them to you with care (all of which take time), you realize that the Starbucks mentality — slap it together, shove it to the customer and charge him up the wazoo for crap — cannot last. Good riddance to companies that think they can last by showering up with lousy products and shoddy service.
I see this same billboard in Soma every day, and always thought to myself; “If perfection costs as much as Stella and tastes as shitty, I want no part of it.”
Good one buddy. I like the excellence bit.
I have not had beer in so long so I don’t know whether it tastes shitty. I will take your word for it. 🙂
Amen to that on Starbucks. I think they are going down the tubes. In that sense, they are losing their most loyal customers like myself considering that i started my business in starbucks and even now i go to the store just out of loyalty to the place, even if I ended up buying water or juice.
As an Austrian economist, I think that the word “perfection” is lacking a time preference definition.
Perfection is fleeting. Your goal today, when met tomorrow, falls short of the next goal. Us Austrians believe, firmly, that a person’s time preference for something is variable based on how nothing has intrinsic value to anyone, ever.
What I want right now may vary by what I may end up needing that was unexpected. Hence, I don’t believe in perfection for any reference but the immediate decision I make.
In my life, since I value my time AND I value my assets (including money), every decision I make is the perfect decision for that given moment. Hindsight allows us to judge past decisions with regret, but the very act of making a decision, to me, means that I am making the perfect decision for myself. I always hope that the person on the other end of every transaction feels the same way — if not, why are they bothering to make that decision?
When I recently wanted to get rid of an asset that I had no purpose for, and no space for, and no time to maintain, I was a bit chagrined by the cash value offered by buyers. Nonetheless, I made the sale — and it was the perfect sale because I knew that I was getting more than it was probably worth to me, and it was saving me the frustration of storage, maintenance, and declining value if I didn’t liquidate it. Hence, while the sale price was less than I had desired, it was still perfect, hence I sold.
For those who think perfection means the acquiring of permanent happiness in a prior decision, review any of the great works of Ludwig von Mises — and you’ll quickly understand that every decision you make in life is backed up by the realization that, at the given time you made the decision, it was perfect. ANYONE who says “Well, I could have done better” is the opposite of perfection: failure. In that case, don’t give up so early.
Perfection has an ultimate price – everything of value: time, money, energy, health, relationships, life…. Perfection is a fleeting prize never to be found. On the contrary, Excellence is always obtainable, and leaves an abundance of life’s resources available to enjoy – not consume and burn away.
@A.B. Dada & @Neo_Fight
In my view – for whatever it is worth – pursuit of perfection is more important than anything else. If you strive for perfection, you perhaps get half-way to excellence and perhaps find some sort of joy in it. It has helped me overcome my own mediocrities, helping me fight those moments of incredible dullness where you sometimes can’t tell what is the point.
And I say this with modesty, with the exception of one or two things, I have no regrets on the past, for I know I tried my absolute best. That is what pursuit of perfection means to me.
@AB, thank you for your comment, for it is the kind of comment that makes me want to work extra hard as a blogger.
If I were an accountant, I might point out that the marginal cost of improvement approaches infinity as you trend toward perfection.
Or, I could quote Voltaire, yes?
“The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
Of course, he said it in French. 🙂
That Voltaire, he was a smart guy.
Too many folks are stuck in the trick bag of defining perfection as if it were some special moment in religious morality.
Look at it in existential terms, engineering terms. Something may perfectly achieve what it is designed to do. That may be a specific golf ball. It may be an electronic device which achieves every goal of its designer. It may even be the organizational structure of a new firm that realizes every target of its founders. They all are “perfect” and true to their design and intent. No more, no less.
Y’all have been listening to too many prophets and pundits.
“If there was nothing wrong in the world there wouldn’t be anything for us to do.” Brilliant! A Western expression of the infinite dynamism of endless change — all chasing the perfection of non-change, silence. A whole lot of doing in pursuit of being.
On the other hand, maybe there is a perfect glass of beer.
Depends on what would you prefer — Perfection or Balance and Harmony?
It would definitely be more difficult for engineers to make a living — since the foundation of demand for our work is solving problems!
Perfection is simply a personal evaluation of something. Be it yourself, another person, or a thing. In the Western world, perfection is constantly sought but is relative to your own beliefs. Something you think is perfect may not be seen as perfect by others and vice-versa. Additionally, EVERYTHING has a price in the West and I don’t always link price to money. However, perfection does not always exist everywhere.
In a competitive world, time-to-market is often more important than someone’s notion of perfection. There’s a fine line between perfection and obsession.
Our boss likes to tell the story of a WWII rifle maker that was developing a revolutionary new rifle that was going dramatically change the balance of power. However, by the time they finally worked out all the kinks, the war was over.
Agree with many about excellence over perfection, I wont say more.
In your original quote, the notion of a life spent striving also feels right.
To me the question is not whether this is the right model, but rather what is it that is worth striving for.
And it is a tricky one, because I have spent many years striving, only to later “out grow” the goal itself.
Not sure that in the human realm there is such a thing as perfection anyway? The Balinese always leave purposefully something imperfect in a building so as not to invite the wrath of the Gods. In the God realm perfection is allowed – in our imaginations perfection is allowed. But we need to encompass imperfection in the human realm & find the beauty in that. It is hubris to think that we can create perfection and that can invite disaster. Striving for perfection in a project or a life is ok but demanding it exist for real can lead to disaster. But doing the best we can & recognizing that there is a gap between our imagination & human endeavors can relax us & open us to the beauty of humanity.