The Pilcrow

Regenerative self-leadership and principles in productivity, life and business

To become really really good at what you do is completely irrational

You would be surprised at the (low) skill level usually required to do a good enough job.

If all you care about is success, then you should stop your core skill building as soon as you’re good enough at something and start working on all the other pieces of the success puzzle. Relationships being one of the most important. And a business have both sales, marketing, general administration and customer relations to juggle.

You do not need to be the best. That is a myth.

However, once you start to find something interesting, fascinating and fun, you’ll begin to spend more time on it than what is rational. You’ll start to care. You’ll care about making whatever it is you do the best it can ever be.

In a solo business, this might distract you from all the other things that make – or break – a business. From an efficient business perspective, you only need to focus on your service or product until it’s good enough to solve a specific problem.

A craftsman’s dilemma

Say you’re a blacksmith who makes knives. You only need to make a knife of decent quality and able to hold it’s sharpness fairly well. You can probably do very well with 70% close to perfect, or even get by with lower.

As you progress in your skills, you’ll encounter the law of diminishing returns. It will require more and more effort in order to make smaller and smaller increments of improvement. There is no need from a rational perspective to go the last 2% – or even 10% – to perfection. But by that time, you’re hooked.

Admit it. Embrace it.

Do it because it has an intrinsic sense of satisfaction. Do it because it gives you pleasure to do it. Do it because you love it.

Just don’t fool yourself that you need it in order to become “successful”. And beware if it distracts you from other things that are also important to you.

Be prepared to release the flawed because there is no end. That is both a source of sadness and of joy.

There is an immense joy hidden in taking that time, to delve that deep, to be able to indulge in perfecting those details.

The sadness comes from knowing that you don’t always have time for that indulgence, and have no other option than to deliver something that you know could be better.

This is why I think everyone should have a hobby where they can indulge in details without the need for shipping on a deadline. Or at least be prepared to use a bit of rational thinking that forces you to let go even though you can make it better.

We appreciate a masterpiece because we recognize the effort that goes behind making it. Effort that nobody can expend without loving it.

In that sense, seeing excellent craftsmanship with attention to detail is like seeing love solidified.

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