It is what it is... Or is it?

It is what it is... Or is it?

“It is what it is.” I hear people say that once in a while. Usually I’m working on a project with these people. We’ve come to a stage in the process that might prove a little difficult or might need a little more effort than originally anticipated.

We’re at a definite fork in the road--- to the left is the easy way, everything’s almost done, we could coast the rest of the way. Except the end result would be mediocre at best.

The right fork would take a little more effort. It might mean we’d have to re-do some things, re-think how we’ve done projects like these in the past, change our ways. Needless to say, it’s the road less traveled.

“It is what it is---” the battle cry of the underachiever. It means they’ve given up. That’s it, I’m done. It’s as good as it’s gonna gets.

Now, it’s not like I’m some anal-retentive perfectionist. Really I’m not. I’m not continually chasing some elusive, unnamed, unattainable ideal of perfection. I just don’t want to be responsible for producing crap.

“Perfection” as a concept is in the eye of the beholder. After 90, 95% perfect, it’s a matter of opinion. My absolute perfection is going to be different than the next guy’s absolute perfection. The last 5% is the point of diminishing returns.

Perfectionism is an actual psychological neurosis. Perfectionists strive for unrealistic goals and consistently feel dissatisfied when they cannot reach them. But doctors say there’s another kind of perfectionism, a normal, healthy kind.

“Pursue excellence, not perfection,” Forbes contributor Victor Lipman advises. “Excellence is attainable, perfection isn’t. Excellence is an admirable goal, perfection a potentially destructive one.”

Of course, “it is what it is” guy stops at, oh, about 60%. And he’s got plenty of company.

We don’t expect perfection anymore. We’ve replaced perfection with good enough. So our fast food is a little light on actual food. Our movies, re-boots. Reality shows are Xeroxes of Xeroxes, getting fuzzier with each copy.

A recent study shows that “the companies you hate… tend to perform better [on the stock market] than the companies you like.” That’s because they don’t waste their profits on frivolous things like polite, helpful customer service representatives for one thing and their stockholders reward them for it.

At this point in my search for excellence, I usually try and wrap things up with joke or a funny twist but it’s late and I’m just not feeling it. Disappointing, I know, but--- it is what it is.


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Filed under: Health, Lifestyle

Tags: mediocrity, perfectionism

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