My wife and I were talking about perfection. We both have perfectionist tendencies and fight it. Everyone intuitively and logically knows there is no such thing as perfection, but boy is it human to try and attain it. It has tripped me up again and again in my life.
I see a common theme again and again, particularly among people under 35. They consistently go for perfection in everything. People shoot for the “perfect trade”. Logically, we know no one can pick tops or bottoms. But, someone will tweet or Instagram a trade with a massive percentage gain and the envy starts.
People try and find the perfect startup to invest in. They will hear that you need to look through 100 to find the one, but what if the first one you see is the one? At seed stages, there is always something wrong with the startup company. The point is to find an absolute killer. Absent that, it’s about finding a team that can execute through the things that can go wrong.
Entrepreneurs try to price for perfection. Instead of just getting the money in, they try to outdo the headlines they read about this valuation or that valuation. If they get the money in, it makes their next round more difficult. Or, they never get the amount of money into the company they need and they always run on fumes until they fail.
Developers will hold back release of things because they aren’t “perfect”. They consistently find bugs. They try to make things just a tad bit better. Of course, as soon as they release it, the market will find bugs. That’s why I love the story of Return Path in the book, Do More Faster. It’s not about beta, but version .01, and quickly getting out version .o2, .o3 etc. I have seen companies die because the engineering team keeps saying, “It’s not right”.
In politics, we search for the absolute perfect candidate. If they make one misstep, execute one vote that is incompatible with our ideal, they get trashed. Absent clear abuses of power, crony capitalism, clearly opposing views, or the use of their office to line their own pockets, we should look for patterns. Instead, the one transgression is punished brutally.
I think that Winston Churchill was right when he said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”. It’s hip to beat up America and American values. But, they are the best. Friends of mine that live in, or emigrated from other countries believe America is the best place to get ahead. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn good.
Relationships are similar. My wife and I often wonder if we would have ever gotten together with apps like Tinder, rules on texting, and other social media platforms. Amazing, we actually had to use corded phones to call each other-and hope the other person was physically present at the location we called if we wanted to talk to each other. Kids believe the false statistic that 50% of marriages fail and they get risk averse. The reality, if both people graduated from college the divorce rate goes down to 10%. No one is ever perfect. Even Bo Derek.
Fred Wilson wrote a post about Satisficing last year. I think it’s great advice for startups, for traders, and for life in general. One of my friends that I traded with used to say, “Is there a faster jet? A better hotel room? A better sunset? A prettier mountain?” Sometimes you have to go with what you got because it’s the thing that fills the bill and don’t worry about what the rest of the world thinks.