Friday, July 22, 2011

"The perfect is the enemy of the good"

In The Writer magazine, an article titled "5 Keys to Keep Readers Reading," quoted Voltaire. I investigated online (Wikipedia) to get the understory. Voltaire was a French writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion and free trade. The quote comes from what is called a moral poem, La Bégueule and is considered a proverb:

Dans ses écrits, un sàge Italien
Dit que le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

(In his writings, a wise Italian
says that the best is the enemy of the good)

"The moral is that perfectionism is contrary to a satisfactory competence. Achieving absolute perfection may be impossible and so, as increasing effort results in diminishing returns, further activity becomes increasingly inefficient." Voltaire is frequently misquoted to instead state, "the good is the enemy of the great," which of course is used as a motivation for perfectionism. e.g. Don't settle for good. Strive for best.

Need I say more? Perhaps this weekend, all negative thinkers  (which generally includes many perfectionists who deny that they are perfectionists) might attempt the practice of accepting that good is better than perfect, that better is in fact even better than best! Maybe that reframe can help reduce stress for a day or two.
"The perfect is the enemy of the good"SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think!