Striving for extreme Perfection – how important is this?

Category: Perfection.

A perfectionist called John had always wanted to be a great engineer. He strove hard to attain the highest grades in university, but graduated with less than desirable results. Long story short, John gave up on his dreams… but it was a different story with his son, Michael.

Everything John had always wanted for himself, he strove to imbue his son with. He wanted Michael to adopt all his ambitions and aspirations. John’s efforts paid off and Michael eventually became a reputable engineer in the most-renowned of engineering councils.


Perfection has to do with the end product, but excellence has to do with the process.

Jerry Moran, Senior US Senator

All’s well that ends well, right? Because John’s perfectionist vision culminated with a brilliant son who ended up being a valuable member of society. That’s clearly a good thing, but aren’t we overlooking something here?

What if John’s desires were not Michael’s? What if the son didn’t share the father’s ambitions, so he was forced into something he had no interest in? What are we getting at here?

The path to perfection – the good

John was a man who sought extreme perfection-he was a perfectionist. The same fire that drives and motivates people like him to achieve great feats is the same fire that renders him blind to the rest of the world around him.

Im Perfect

A perfectionist’s vision is always blurred because he only sees what’s important to him; then deliberately or inadvertently neglects what’s important to the people around him, so there are two things to take note of here: Striving for extreme perfection is necessary for a number of reasons, but it also has its drawbacks.

It thus becomes a question of importance and the effects exerted on the individual and society as whole. Does the good outweigh the bad? Let’s see if we can’t find out.

The few and the proud

If you consider the total number of the people walking this world, you’ll agree the percentage that makes up extreme perfectionists are quite low. It’s easy to identify a perfectionist. They always stand out due to their strict work ethics.

So what does it take to be classified as a perfectionist? You have to be a person who demands the highest standards possible- this just screams steadfastness and quality, doesn’t it?


The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.

Michelangelo, Italian Sculptor

The world needs perfectionists because it’s by their efforts so much is achieved and discovered. Striving for perfection is an important process which gives birth to new technology, innovations, inventions and ideas that seek to improve the lives of everyone.

Regardless of what field you find them in, perfectionists always make a mark. They make their presence known and you can’t help but feel their ‘impact’.

Michael Jackson had more than just talent going for him. He was a perfectionist, and his music changed the genre as people knew it. Leonardo da Vinci was another individual who was blessed with an absurd amount of talent, but he was a perfectionist whose inventions paved the path for so many of the machines we see today; his works still gracing museums. Serena Williams dominated the realm of tennis for decades.

These men and women were always the best at what they did and talent was only half of what made them icons. Perhaps one of the most notable-and notorious for his sheer efficiency-of them was the late, great, Steve Jobs.

Though this man was accused of having extreme perfectionist views, he was still responsible for nurturing Apple into the global giant it is today. It’s not too far-fetched to say Apple might not have been what it is now without Steve Job’s influence. Let’s talk some more about him and the company he co-founded before his untimely passing.

Whenever we think of Apple, the first things that comes to mind are clean, premium, expensive mobile phones and white, pristine, personal computers. All this was achieved under the ever-watchful and scrutinizing eye of Steve Jobs.


Perfectionists demand perfection from themselves first and foremost.

Joyce Meyer, American Author

He paid attention to even the slightest details and made sure the tiniest errors were rectified at all costs. His obsession with conceiving the ‘best of the best’ is now the principle underlying Apple computers. Apple makes products by staying true to Steve Job’s vision of making the best of what he sets out to do.

Suffice to say many of us who aspire to attain the kind of heights Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci have must also adopt certain beliefs and traits, because they will by and large be the determinants of just how high we can climb (or fall).

We fear mistakes, but we fear failures even more

It’s ironic that fear, of all things, is what pushes perfectionists the most to realize their goals. Perfectionists fear failing at anything they set out to do, so they perpetually go that extra mile to make sure their ventures end being nothing but successful and exceptional. Fear is thus very important for achieving perfection. Fear morphs into a motivator to help you succeed where others fail.


Looking for perfection is the only way to motivate yourself.

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Snooker Champion

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, the renowned German philosopher and composer once alluded to this by dubbing it an ‘inferiority complex’ that leads to great things. Friedrich said for someone striving for perfection, insecurity is as much a key to success as anything because it pushes him to go beyond his limits lest he fail at what he’s doing.

We envision greatness, but we strive for a utopia

There might never be a utopia but that doesn’t stop people from seeking perfection and a perfect world. There are perfectionists out there who do their best to bring about the start of something that will benefit the entire world as a whole.

For most of us, this might be so daunting a task it is deemed absurd. For a perfectionist, it’s just another challenge to overcome, and if one rises above all doubts and succeeds in inventing or creating something great, everyone stands to benefit– in more ways than one. How so?


The success of the one who aims for perfection will be an inspiration for others to follow suit. It will boost their morale and push them to raise their standards, climaxing in innovation and new discoveries by new aspirants. When one person aims for great things and succeeds, value is created for people and the society as a whole. Utopia doesn’t sound so silly now, does it?

Gratitude must be given to these men and women who work tirelessly to progress technology and better the lives of people. Sometimes, we even enjoy the fruits of their labor more than they do, because we work normal hours and live simple lives, but most perfectionists work overtime with barely any regard for their own health. They do all the work, and we live off their innovations.

We hear people praise us, but we only listen to self-criticism

Perfectionists are rarely satisfied with an achievement, even if the rest of us see nothing wrong with it. This dissatisfaction, contrary to how most of us would react to it, is simply a stepping stone for perfectionists in their quest to achieve even more.

These people that go for nothing but the best tend to remain deaf to what others say. They listen to their own opinions and rarely heed those of others. They criticize themselves harder than anyone ever could, forcing themselves to do even better.


No one ever approaches perfection expect by stealth, and unknown to themselves.

William Hazlitt, English writer

Scientific research and evidence has shown that this self-criticism is actually necessary for those seeking extreme perfection, because it drives them to outdo themselves and their best feats. So, in essence, such people achieve more the harder they chastise themselves. It keeps them on their toes and casts away all distractions, enabling them to make judicious use of their time.

A simple way of saying all this is: self-criticism is of utmost importance in the race to attaining perfection.

The path to perfection – the bad

Earlier on, the question was asked whether the good in seeking perfection outweighs the bad. The former has been discussed, now here’s the latter.

Let’s take another page off Steve Job’s life to give a better understanding of what we’re talking about here. Steve and Apple’s success did not stem from perfection entirely, no. Initially, that obsession he had with excellence was the same thing holding him and the company back.


For example, it took more than three years for him and Apple to make the first Macintosh. The reason for this was because he exhausted so much time paying attention to the tiniest details in the product and making sure it had been perfected and was devoid of all errors and design flaws.

Steve soon realized there was a better and more efficient way to go about this. As time went on, he hired more people to assist in the production, but only those he believed could do something he was proud of.

In essence, Steve had to compromise his perfectionism in an effort to run a more productive company because prior to this move, Apple had only targeted a niche customer base, but their target now was the mass market.

So what can we discern from Steve here? Striving for perfection is necessary for innovation and progress, but the belief only you know what’s best negates the potency of your efforts to a certain extent.

So what can we discern from Steve here? Striving for perfection is necessary for innovation and progress, but the belief only you know what’s best negates the potency of your efforts to a certain extent.

Steve was forced to take in new staff because he understood that would give him great results that would suffice, though he yearned for perfect results. He had to settle for results less than he would have desired, but that in no way made Apple less of a monopolizing company; indeed, it’s one of the main things which put Apple on the map.

We may have the desire to be perfect, but we may lack the strength to chase it

This is very true. Striving for extreme perfection may be something people yearn for, but that doesn’t mean they possess the necessary qualities to get it. Attaining perfection in anything is not easy. That much is given.

Necessary traits that must be possessed include a sound work ethic, great perseverance and impressive resilience to remain steadfast under stress and strain. Failure of an aspirant to master or at least have command of any of these qualities can culminate with procrastination and other (worse) adverse effects.


Fix your eyes on perfection and you make almost everthing speed towards.

William Ellery Channing, American Preacher

Wanting something to be perfect, but not being able to make it a reality, can metamorphose that desire into a psychological condition that benefits no one. Research has shown those who aim for perfection but fail to attain it have been diagnosed with eating and other disorders.

So is extreme perfection worth risking all this? Is it so important you jeopardize your health just to attain it?

We can afford to conceive great dreams, but we may not be able to afford a perfect reality

Dreams, visions, aspirations, desires, wants; all of these mean very little without the necessary funds to sustain them until they become reality. Going for extreme perfection is more often than not, quite expensive.


Because of the goal perfectionists have of only producing the best of something, they often shy away from components that aren’t on par with what they envision or aren’t up to task with their requirements. This entails extra expenses because it means acquiring and working with components that are not standard or part of the norm.

One last reference to Apple and Steve Jobs: What Steve and Apple aspired to do necessitated they were unique and did everything themselves. The hardware as well as software run in Apple devices are both proprietary, as against the standardized ones utilized by other companies in the same field.

Apple iOS could only be run on Apple computers. This may have made Apple products unique, but it also made them very expensive to produce and buy. So both the seller and buyer have to spend a substantial amount of cash to get what they want.

Not everyone has access to funds like Steve Jobs had. Not everyone can afford to be perfect in their endeavors, because in the end, money is a much more important factor as ambition is.

The path to perfection – the ugly

So what’s the right answer here? Does striving for extreme perfection lead to greater or worse things? Because consider the fact it can be detrimental to health and wellbeing but conversely beneficial to society and the lives of people. Which is more important?

It’s hard to say, because both the good and bad can come out of it, so we can only look at something we’ve alluded to earlier: A compromise, or a combination that leads to a balance.


Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.

Voltaire, French Writer

The only way extreme perfection can benefit one person and not at the expense of another is to find a middle ground, and that entails compromise and a descent from perfect to great, or from perfect to excellent. The former may not be what was sought but the latter is more than acceptable. Apple has certainly found success doing this and so will others, if only they attempt it.

Extreme perfection is important, because that is what leads to progress. It may strain and drain us on one side, but it advances and progresses our world on the other. The best we can do is strike a balance between both extremes just like Apple has.

How does OKR help with extreme Perfection?

The OKR framework can help perfectionists define their most important goals and come up with quantitative, measurable steps to help them reach those goals. This is one way to share an idealistic vision with other members of a team, and give guidelines on how that vision can be achieved.

While OKRs cannot promise perfection, they can offer alignment at every level of a company, as well as prioritization. Prioritizing OKRs can help determine where time, effort, and resources are distributed. If a certain goal is of the utmost importance and requires funds and dedication in order to achieve it, it can be prioritized within a certain quarter and receive the attention of an entire team, department, or even an entire company.

At its core OKR is an iterative execution methodology, which enables you to execute your strategy. It’s all about execution, execution, execution. These iterations in the most popular iterative execution cycle known to the world — the PDCA cycle. Here are the benefits when you look at OKRs from that vantage point:

Sales OKRs


  • Establish company’s objectives with clarity. Enable managers to define their objectives that align with the company level objectives. Enable individual objectives that align with and help achieve company’s & manager’s objectives.
  • Clearly define meaningful progress. You know what you want to achieve by the definition of your objective, Clearly defined key results allow you to define how you are going to measure progress towards reaching that objective. That clarity is immensely beneficial for both the management and employees. Identify the metrics that matter.


  • Plan & create completely aligned initiatives and tasks.
  • Get the right initiatives completed by doing the right tasks using the right people


  • Measure how far away are you from your designated success?
  • Conduct focused one-on-one reviews and team meetings.
  • Cross check alignment and progress on aligned OKRs.
  • Evaluate where you are with your current priorities on a regular basis
  • Keep track of the history of progress and develop your muscle memory as to what actions move things one way or the other.


  • Resolve conflicts to ensure OKRs are well aligned
  • Focus on what could be done to move the needle as a team?
  • Positively impact the progress of an individual’s OKR, assuming you have the right individual for that OKR.

When implemented well, OKRs lead to perfection and you will see pronounced, clearly observable change in the way your employees go about their daily work. That is the most important benefit of all.

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