Unhealthy perfection

One summer when I was a young, wide-eyed lad, I recall a promotion that McDonalds ran where young, wide (and not-so-wide) eyed lads could win a free poster of the World Series Cricket teams.  You didn’t have to buy anything to get the prize (even though you would anyway, so marketing objective one achieved for Maccas).  All you had to do was say the Big Mac “Two all beef patties…” jingle.

The catch was that you had to do it in 4 seconds or less.

Wanting that poster and knowing what I had to do to get it, I practiced that line over and over (marketing objective two achieved) until I could nail it in under 4 seconds, visited Maccas and claimed my poster.

That was my first ever (memorable) exposure to a sales promotion.  Looking back, it was also a point where I could identify such a thing as an unhealthy obsession with perfection.

See, when I say I practiced that jingle, I mean it.  It was weeks and countless practice runs before I could stop the clocks with all of the words (audibly) inside 4 seconds.  I wasn’t going to attempt the task until I’d perfected the criteria.  I made sure that every, single preparatory step was taken before actually taking a firm action step towards the goal.

So you can imagine my frustration (in a childlike kind of way) when after weeks of practice (almost to the end of the summer’s World Series Cricket comp) and stepping into the queue behind other kids to deliver my perfect line, every other kid got a poster even though they were mostly over 4 seconds (not by much, but they were).

They’d get the jingle right but as far as meeting the time criteria, they were far from perfect yet were still getting the same prize that I did even though, in my mind at least, they weren’t as prepared for the task as I was.  It occurred to me that I could’ve had my poster much sooner (at the beginning of the season), had I just taken hold of the information I had and executed my plan.  The worst that could’ve happened?  I’d get another chance.

You can sit on the sidelines, endlessly preparing because you believe that perfection is the only catalyst that’ll get your idea firing.  Or you can assemble the most basic and fundamental elements of the idea, jump in and start crafting it to whatever perfection it is that’s desired

As a postscript, I’m not suggesting the pursuit of perfection is a bad thing.  The high concept of perfection should always be a vision when you’re developing any idea (whether it be a marketing campaign or business idea).  It’s only bad when it stops you from taking any steps at all.

  1. :wink: There is nothing wrong about wanting to achieve perfection. As Mr Roosevelt said, Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that know neither victory nor defeat!!

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