Ben on Business | Perfection in Perspective

In the Ben on Business series, we looked at a few of the principles that drove Ben Franklin’s success as a businessman, researcher, innovator, inventor and political leader.

Franklin describes in his autobiography his sincere desire to seek perfection.

Because he was who he was, his first steps were to define the target, design a process and create a system for tracking progress.

Many notables have equally strong opinions about perfection. Each one has their own distinct point of view.

Winston Spencer Churchill, sometimes described as the man who saved Western civilization, said:
The maxim, ‘Nothing avails but perfection,’ may be spelled, Paralysis.

Charles Handy, a consultant and author, specializes in organizational behavior and management. He says:
I believe that we and I got a lot of it wrong, but, as in much of life, if we had waited for perfection we might never have got started.

George Leonard, American educator, writer and Aikido master, notes that:
We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process, a journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year.

Is the search for perfection reasonable or ridiculous? Perhaps it doesn't matter, because Franklin shows us the way: Define the objective. Create a plan. Implement it. Track progress. Measure outcomes.

He thought big thoughts. Set audacious goals. Accomplished great things.

Ben Franklin never mastered the art of perfection. Instead, he avoided paralysis, mastered the power of process and took action. There's a lot to be said for that approach.


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