The Pursuit of Perfection

February 23, 2017



Written By: jon

By Jon Simons

One of the most dangerous words in the English language is the word “perfect.” While the concept feels good and worthy of pursuit, it is – in the end – a fool’s errand. I can only imagine the number of unfulfilled goals and dreams that die on the unreachable alter of perfection.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe the old saying, “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” I just wish that people would stop holding themselves (and others) to a standard of perfection. Like a unicorn, perfection sounds magical and amazing but it’s just not real. You are as likely to find a unicorn* in your backyard, as you are to be perfect!

I see the struggle for perfection so often in my work with non-profits and the people who are committed to make our world a better place. Both volunteers and staff make themselves vulnerable and take risks by asking others to make a donation of time and/or money to their charitable cause. The greatest obstacle they often face is the perceived standard of perfection.

In preparation for these donor conversations, volunteers and staff often share their concern that they may not be “good at this” and they worry that they “won’t be perfect.” Each time I hear this, I assure them they’re right. They will not be perfect.

But the good news is to be successful they don’t need to be perfect; they need to be authentic.

While perfection is unachievable, authenticity is preferred. Donors give not because the ask is perfect, but because it is heartfelt and trusted.

In both our personal and professional lives, if we could exchange the senseless pursuit of perfection for a commitment to authenticity, I believe we would find the happiness and success that we seek.


*To be clear, I have no beef with unicorns or people striving to be their best!

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2 responses to “The Pursuit of Perfection”

  1. Sharon Kunas says:

    Thanks for the reminder that often perfect is the enemy of both good and very good!

  2. Cate Mellen says:

    I hear your voice in my head now when I am speaking with volunteers and prospects and I ask myself, “What would Jon say in this situation?” Thank you!