Sunday, May 29, 2022


 I recently came across an intriguing phrase- "The Cold Mountain Effect". Cold Mountain is the a novel that made history in 1997 with a 61-week run on the New York Times best-seller list, selling 3 million copies. It went on to become a hit film that earned seven Academy Award nominations. The effect didn't really come from it's success but as the story goes- Charles Frazier, the author of Cold Mountain, spent nearly a decade writing the novel. He just didn't stop writing or didn't just knew how to stop. One of his friends finally snuck an unfinished copy of the manuscript to a literary agent, who signed Frazier on the spot. Without this intervention, Frazier would’ve possibly kept revising it for far longer. The Cold Mountain Effect explains what we mistake as perfectionism. We know too much about our job that we continually polish and try and make it better without any end in sight.

The Cold Mountain Effect is arguably an extreme but most of us, sometime in our career, have likely embraced perfectionistic tendencies. Examples- Spending so much time getting organized that it interfere with getting tasks completed, Checking and/or seeking reassurance that a task has been done well enough or that all standards are met, equating small mistakes with failures, and the list goes on.

Rebecca M. Knight in an insightful HBR article says- Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can motivate you to perform at a high level and deliver top-quality work. On the other hand, it can cause you unnecessary anxiety and slow you down.

Perfection isn't necessarily a bad trait in itself but like with anything done in excess and if applied in wrong contexts, it can have negative consequences. In the article, Rebecca M. Knight shares valuable points to help manage our perfection. I loved sketching these ideas, sharing via the sketchnote below.

My top picks:
1. Managing your perfectionism also requires you to “calibrate your standards".

2. You can spend an extra three hours making a presentation perfect, but does that improve the impact for the client or your organization? Optimize your work for impact.

3. If you genuinely want to be a high achiever, you’re bound to do some things imperfectly.

In summary, embracing perfection is a must in some situations but in many other situations 'Done is better than Perfect'

What's your take on embracing perfection at work ? How much of it is enough ?

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