The curse of perfectionism

One of my students, remarkably, said something quite profound to me the other day: “Perfectionism is the enemy of success.”

Now a week and a half before our deadline for publishing our guidebook, I have come upon the real meaning of this.

I spent the whole weekend, whilst Violetta was “on assignment” up north, trawling through the pages of our almost-complete guidebook to spot every tiny little error I could. I think I probably had a total of eight hours sleep over the two days.

And, after the cappucino-fired weekend, I emerged, bleary-eyed, with a crumpled ten pages of things that aren’t quite right. That’s a lot of not-rights to emerge with so close to the deadline.

But the thing is our guidebook is actually really good (hands down, it’s the best you’re going to find about Khartoum and Sudan), but the niggling little doubts I have our stupid things over spellings etc.

For example, a lot of street names begin with Abd, as in, for example, Abd Latief. What’s odd about that? Well, it suddently occurred to me that Abd isn’t a word. Even in Arabic. Of course, I knew immediately what it stood for: Abdul. A call to a friend, who endured many such calls over the weekend, confirmed to me my suspcions. So out go all Abds, to be replaced by Abdul’s (or could be Abdel, again more painful deliberating).

Or the train station in North Khartoum is called Moghif Shandi. But it suddenly occurred to me that this name is mightily similar to Shendi up north – must be a reason. Quick call to my friend, whose dispair becomes more obvious with each fresh phone call, and my suspicions are again confirmed.

And so on it goes.

Hence the ten pages.

And there are still about six of those pages to correct. Hence perfectionism being the enemy of success. We can’t really miss this deadline looming at the end of the month, if we are to have any chance of shipping our product here before we (temporarily) return to Europe for a few months.

The thing that I really don’t want to do is sacrifice quality just because we have this deadline to make. All this thinking is giving me a headache.

Oh, I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they shoot by. – Douglas Adams


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One Response to “The curse of perfectionism”

  1. Amal Says:

    Hey Blake,

    Its sad that you are leaving Sudan but I hope you can take away a few good memories with you, I certainly enjoyed your post and the observations that you made.
    In regards to the book you are compiling, at the rate of change in Sudan and especially Khartoum , is this book going to be of any relevance say in the next two years?
    New roads may be opened due to the Tuti bridge and the new tuti and bahri bridge may be opened, also the new airport that will open (inshallah!) in 2009 will mean the whole business arrangement in the capital will surely change.

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