I like to believe that Perfectionism is an inherited genetic trait. This fantasy allows me to deflect personal responsibility and blame it on the long line of Perfectionists that came before me. My parents were afflicted in different ways, but one of the sayings my father uttered while working on almost any project, from washing cars to building a fence, was,
I guess perfect is good enough
In this little phrase, he packed both humor and the expectation that perfection was the ultimate goal. The trait I am honored most to have inherited from him, even in my less potent version, is this unrelenting drive for the best possible outcome through personal effort. This is what I like to think of as the Purist’s form of Perfectionism. And he expected the same verve from those around him and did his best to infect anyone he could, usually leading by example. It’s a ‘job well done’ kind of satisfaction that is derived from the effort and not necessarily the result. Although that rare little bonus is like Perfectionist’s crack. And like the addicts we are, when perfection is obtained, we are left wanting more, in even more areas of our lives, in an ever widening circle of….
Whew… Ok… Breathe…
Anyway, while the benefits to being a perfectionist are many, the condition is also the proverbial Albatross around the Neck.
Case(work) in point: I spent months agonizing over choosing just the right cabinet maker to fabricate our new mountain studio’s kitchen. Spent more months collaborating with the anointed one, Henrybuilt, over the layout, design, functionality, etc… When the truck pulled up several months later, I knew I had made the right choice. The crates the casework was shipped down in looked like actual furniture. And when each piece was revealed under 3 layers of protection, including fabric, it was obvious that I had brothers and sisters out there who understood, and possibly reveled in, our shared curse. We took our time with the install, treating each cabinet’s placement, to my non-perfectionist husband’s horror, with a consideration not given to international treaty negotiations. The support we were given, including the answers to our many newbie-esque questions, was phenomenal! We were constantly astonished by the perfect plumb & square, exactly to measure pieces and the thoughtfulness of the design. It made our home-grown installation so much better than we thought possible.
And now the flipside: All we needed was a nice countertop and we were done! We went local on this choice, since we wanted a well-known quartz composite brand and had a straight-forward layout. What could be easier, right? Wrong. On template day, the installer told us that our plan for 1/8 inch margins on the sides of our island was crazy, unreasonable and probably not even possible to accurately produce. We pointed to the plans, the online examples, the modern design aesthetic that we had spent months, even years, plotting. Nada. They left and gave us our money back. I blame myself for not being able to compromise on my design, but I just couldn’t do it. I get it, the installer eats $$$ if he blows it while fabricating. My thought was, well, don’t you want to rise to the challenge and well, don’t you believe in your craftsmanship? Um, I guess we didn’t share the same thoughts. So, having Thanksgiving on hobbled together melamine isn’t so bad… Hmmm… Now, over a
year later, quite by chance, we found an installer that would actually do the job the way we wanted it. Strangely, after a practically ‘perfect’ installation, we all noticed some faint marks that wouldn’t be buffed out. Turns out they were a manufacturing defect and couldn’t have been seen until install. They gave a choice of keeping the countertop or trying again, so after weighting the possible damage that might occur by taking them off and attempting a redo, they graciously took a little $$$ off and we kept them.
So, after all that effort, still not perfect. But, you know what? I don’t mind the strange marks. I guess I’ve come to appreciate another saying that would normally make me cringe,
Don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough
After all, they are only really seen when there is nothing on the countertop and when does THAT happen!?!