I'd like to start our topic for today with a little anecdote. So, William Eliot Morris Zobrowski, an American who was born in 1858, was not just shamelessly wealthy, he was also one of history's first racing drivers. Above all, however, he was a gentleman from his head to his toes, always perfectly styled and dressed in the latest fashion. However, during the famous La Turbie mountain race in Nice, in 1903, this perfectionism would prove his undoing: his gold cufflinks became caught in his car's hand throttle, which was a standard feature at the time, which caused him to lose control of his Mercedes and crash into a tree. He died instantly.
The magazine section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented as follows: "He died as he had lived - in style, a gentleman from his finely coiffed head to the hand-stitched soles on his shoes." I can see you shaking your head in disbelief: gold cufflinks in a race? Honestly? Yes, honestly. Mr. Zobrowski was ultimately a perfectionist in all respects. And did it do him any good? I'd say that it didn't. Had he not dressed perfectly, but rather professionally (in other words, in a racing overall), that wouldn't have happened. What can we learn from his example? Quite clearly: perfectionism in all respects is not necessarily the optimum outcome. Or, to put it more separately, being a professional doesn't mean being a perfectionist.
The flora and fauna of our planet show what it means to be perfectly adapted to your environment. Let's take the shark for example. In the course of evolution, the basic template for the shark is so perfectly adapted to life in the sea that its success story has continued for the last 400 million years. Ferns have been around for just as long, and have managed to spread all over the globe, surviving all natural disasters and climate change that have come their way. Meanwhile, if we look at what we have done in the relatively short 160,000 years of human history, it's reasonable to ask whether we will survive the next 1,000... On the other hand, perfect self-destruction would still be a kind of perfectionism, wouldn't it? As such, we can see that perfectionism simply doesn't work for humanity as a whole. What about perfectionism at the level of individual people?
With their demands for nothing less than 100%, perfectionists can often stand in the way of a quick and satisfactory solution for any problem. To put it another way: perfectionists can find a problem for any solution. Instead of being happy with an effective, 80% solution, perfectionists focus on the remaining - or, in their view, missing - 20%. That 20% generally only exists in the perfectionists' imagination, however; perfect solutions are extremely rare and, in nature, often need millions of years to come about (see the shark and the fern for examples). When perfectionists are in a leadership role, they can completely overstep the mark and destroy the motivation of an entire team by splitting hairs over trivialities. Spontaneity and creativity are pushed aside, and the team never finds its groove - meaning that they can never fulfill their true potential. Their detractors might refer to them as "micro-managers" and anyone who's had to work for a perfectionist boss will not hold challenge that assessment.
Things go differently for perfectionists who strive to achieve perfection for themselves alone, in the privacy of their own environment. When Swiss watchmakers invest two decades of their lives - or more - in the search for the perfect timepiece, you know that the results will be amazing. The same goes for a book by an author who searches for the perfect turn of phrase, day in, day out, and is happy to have committed three lines to paper over the course of an evening. However, they generally have the capacity to succeed in what they seek out to achieve. In summary: solitary perfectionists don't get on others' nerves in the same way, and sometimes create truly astonishing works. Naturally, that only applies if they present their projects to the public, even though, in their eyes, it's only 99.9% complete.
The search for the perfect woman is tough on perfectionists. Why? Quite simply, because she doesn't exist. And, if she did exist, she certainly wouldn't be looking for a single-minded perfectionist. Wouldn't she rather have a healthy mix of the outdoor type, the gentleman, and the Latin Lover? If perfectionists nevertheless manage to enter into a relationship, it generally amounts to a deal with compromises. In effect, "she" doesn't really meet all his requirements, but stumbling through life, lost and alone, is not a solution either. After all, even perfectionists have needs. At least, I think so, although... perfect sex is just a myth that real life, with its interesting body shapes, quickly gives lie to. However, before we embark on too many flights of fantasy, let's draw the line there. With its 873 words, this piece is the perfect length. Or perhaps it just needs one more sentence...
Published : 03/2/2017 08:02:05