Perfect Systems

It's fashionable to label oneself as a Type-A personality. Wikipedia describes these individuals as competitive, highly organized, ambitious, impatient, highly aware of time management and/or aggressive. Being that I am a trendy member of society, I identify as Type-A, sans aggressive. These traits serve me well, but each of them are a double-edged sword.

Consider competitiveness. A quality that drives me, pushes me to be a better version of myself, fuels me through difficult training sessions. I can spot another competitor out of a group of ten phonies. There's a mystical aura about us. We'll be the ones covered in goosebumps watching Dwyane Wade highlights on YouTube. I would not be where I am without it.

Competitiveness doesn't come without a cost. It has led to tunnel vision, preventing me from seeing the forest for the trees. It has provoked countless fights between friends and family, with words and emotions manifesting like unwelcome ghosts. It has caused injury from pushing too hard and not knowing when to ease off the gas pedal. It has spurred me to sound like the smartest person in the room, even when I am not educated on the topic at hand.

Each of the qualities above enable positive action, but lacking control in any one of them can lead to less than ideal results.

The cost of perfection

Imagine the following scenario. Your home world is under attack by a group of vicious aliens from a far-off galaxy. They're hell-bent on wiping our species off the map. All the greatest minds have come together in one room to devise a plan of action. The world depends on them.

Each of them believe they have the perfect solution. None of them can find common ground. For days they engage in discussions over whose plan is the best. Meanwhile, The War Of The Worlds rages on. Buildings are crashing down all around them. The planet is crumbling, and as we look to the greatest minds for help, we are met with indecision. They have yet to find the perfect plan and refuse to make a move.

This is a contrived example of what goes through my mind each time I plan my attack on a goal. It feels productive to consider all possible outcomes. To have all my bases covered. But the truth is that I'm just hiding from the work.

An ambitious goal can draw out the best in us, but if we require a perfect system before we set forth to accomplish it, our feet will never leave the ground. The reality is that the perfect system does not exist. Only the right system for you and your goal, and it will not reveal itself so long as you stand still. So begin. Move forward. Experiment. Fail. Iterate.

Your system is out there waiting to be discovered.

Jake Wiesler

Hey! 👋 I'm Jake

Thanks for reading! I write about software and building on the Web. Learn more about me here.

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