The Agilist Network

Tales and Tips from Agile Software Projects

Do Your Second Best

Posted by kenhoward on January 21, 2008

A colleague recently told me about the struggles he and others experienced when working on their doctoral dissertations. He told me that many tended to struggle with perfecting their research and preparation for defense of their dissertation. Christian author and scholar Ramsay McMullen visited with them one day and listened to their rants about the challenges of completing their work. Ramsay told them, “If you are a perfectionist, then do your second best.” There is a certain profoundness in that statement. I have been a victim of perfectionism in the past, and many I’ve worked with have experienced the same struggle.

By the way, for a less pragmatic version of the same idea. Look to philosopher and writer Voltaire, who said, “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.”, or “Perfect is the enemy of the good.”

Often, results offer greater value than perfection. So if your work tends to stall, and results come slowly, try your second best.


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