Amazing or Perfect

Uncategorized Aug 26, 2021

An all-too-common stumbling block is thinking that amazing equals perfect. It leads to a kind of self-sabotage since people refuse to take even the first step to success if it isn’t perfect.

Right now, we have two amazing tools for combatting the Covid-19 pandemic. The first is for people to simply wear a mask when with others so the virus spreads slower. The second tool is rolling out the mRNA vaccine which really is a miracle of medical engineering.

Obviously, neither tool is a perfect solution for the pandemic. Masks can be smelly, feel hot on a face during the Summer and tend to conceal friendly smiles. Likewise, the vaccines are showing some adverse side-effects, generally require a few booster shots to be effective and involve our favorite thing – needles. Yet, these two simple – if imperfect – tools could help immensely in the collective task of pushing back Covid-19, especially in the US.

The key to getting society on the same page about this task requires having faith in each other. This is not as uncommon as one might think. After all, we must have faith that other drivers will stop at a red light or that a restaurant patron won’t dine-and-dash. Patiently waiting in line at the checkout is also considered to be a default part of buying groceries. In other words, taking care of each other is every citizen’s primary responsibility.

But some Americans are having a hard time remembering this. Instead of seeing that the imperfect combination of masks and vaccines is probably our best chance to get back to normal, they are refusing to cooperate unless they get a perfect solution.

We saw a similar social reaction when seat belt laws were first adopted. Many people rationally feared the belts might crush their organs, or that it could be safer to instead be thrown from a crumpling car and even said things like: “you can’t tie up an American with a seat belt!”

And yet, wearing a seat belt was never about absolute safety, it just lowered the likelihood of death or serious injury during a car crash. The seat belt solution was amazing, but not perfect.

This has lessons for the pursuit of success. The truth is, everything amazing comes with a healthy sprinkling of downsides. As the old saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Compromises are a fact of life. But just because something can’t be done perfectly is no excuse for not trying at all.

Don’t confuse having an amazing life with having a perfect life.

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