Saturday, March 17, 2007

Portrait of a perfectionist: points to ponder
can a perfectionist afford to be polite?
is a polite perfectionist really a perfectionist?
is a rude perfectionist really a perfectionist?

I used to take pride in my quest for perfection. A few of my friends and acquaintances even labelled me as a "perfectionist". I always wanted everything right. I still want everything right. Whether I ever got/get things right is another question! I used to get upset when even some little thing wasn't perfectly right. I still do. But my experiences of the last 8 years or so have left me wondering...

In the course of my professional life - and in my personal life - I have met 3 individuals whom I regard as perfectionists. For them, there is only one way of doing things - the perfect way. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

For imperfection to perfectly unacceptable, it requires perfect intolerance of imperfection. For, the slightest imperfection in the intolerance of imperfection is in itself an imperfection of perfection. :-)

The drivel apart, the fact is there are only two states when it comes to measuring perfection: perfect or imperfect - there is no in-between state; no 'almost perfect', no 'just a little imperfect'.

Therein lies the thought that has me pondering: it's difficult if not impossible, to practice zero tolerance of imperfection if you're polite all the time. Conversely, the slightest tolerance of imperfection automatically dilutes perfection. Which is why the laissez-faire ('chalta hai') attitude is a regressive one and is the bane of many an institution (including nations).

Of the three 'perfectionists' I allude to, two have awful people management skills (it would be a perfectly valid observation to jump and point out that therein lies an imperfection, but let's leave that aside for a moment) while the third has rather sound people management skills, but it doesn't take too many instances of imperfection to get him troubled. And let us not even get started on their EQ - as far as I am concerned, it's below mean sea-level. But that is not to say they are bad human beings. Indeed, I have a lot of regard for their professional abilities and have deep personal respect for at least two of them.

But the questions continues to bother me: how does one trade-off the quest for perfectionism with being civil? Can a perfectionist afford to be polite? Is a rude perfectionist really a perfectionist?



RKVS Raman said...


So u did try blogging. Do u still blog?

Suhas M Mallya said...

@Raman: Yes, Raman, I did try blogging eons ago; somehow, I don't have the flair for writing that I used to, but hope to pick up some steam in the weeks to come.