Done is better than perfect. The enemy of good is better. These are phrases that have echoed throughout my training and particularly in the past year of my personal life. Credited in various iterations to multiple sources, I openly note that these two phrases are not my original words and, I’d wager based on their prevalence, not my unique experience.
Attention to detail, a penchant for excellence, the desire to be flawless are admirable in their own right, but they can be stifling and, in some cases, paralyzing. It is one thing to get caught in a loop of endless editing and quite another to never develop the film in the first place. What happens when perfect stops us from starting?
How many ideas never make it out of our mental space? Never grace a page, even if crumpled and in the bin? Though muffled by the “just one more tweak for better” mentality, good work has the potential to be amplified to the world, but ideas never uttered, jotted, or drafted are void of that possibility – the futile multiple of zero is ever naught.
In medicine and in political arenas, a misstep can be fatal, with the risk of casualties present in each at varying levels of severity. Ideally, we know the answer before we ask the question and are simply using the query for confirmation. Sometimes, however, we must simply recognize that we can’t know what we don’t know, expand our investigation, release the anchor of perfection, and chart a new course.
The practice of medicine is aptly named to represent the need for trial and, hopefully minimal, error, and acknowledges a degree of unpredictability inherent to managing human physiology. While there is much that is known and proficiency to be achieved, education is a to be a continuous process with a degree of wonder inherent to the profession.
For all the importance of planning, preparing, and postulating, there comes the point where we must simply begin. Being willing to move forward, take a stand, make a decision, initiate the process, and allow for a degree of possibility beyond our scope, are necessary steps of progress. Listening for feedback, accepting that it might not match our expectations, and learning to adjust course makes this less-than-perfect beginning a sustainable reality. It is, after all, much easier to turn a moving vehicle than one stuck in park.
How many times do we omit the opportunity to try because we might not get something just right? What have we missed because we only looked where we have already been? What is the price we pay for elusive perfection? Where might we find ourselves if we lose sight of the shore long enough to seek new lands?
What can we begin today that we have been avoiding because we aren’t quite sure or it isn’t exactly what we’d imagined? Can the inspiration of bravery be as powerful as that of brilliance? May we find the audacity to finish along with the courage to start in the space free from the pressure of perfection where confidence and humility combine to create progress.
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