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Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017

The Perfect Enemy

Posted Monday, February 4, 2008, at 10:01 AM

My Dad didn't have many sayings that I recall, but one sticks in my memory like glue because it is more often true than not. Dad's saying was "Perfect is the enemy of good". His philosophy was that if it's real good, perfect is just about unattainable.

Most do-it-yourselfers know about this phenomenon. Unless you are a skilled craftsman, trying to get things to fit together perfectly can be almost impossible. The hardware stores know the truth of the saying as there are shelves packed with stuff to help people fix what they screwed up trying to get something perfect. Paint remover, spackling compound, and Goo Gone are just a few of the multitude of products to help fix what "perfect" messed up.

Here on the farm, the truth of the saying is evident in many places. Good enough is the rule when looking at the finish carpentry around the farms house. Trim pieces don't fit very well in most places, and it's obvious that previous owners didn't try to get to perfect, good was all that was necessary for them.

When trying to achieve perfection, we usually fall just a little short. Try to paint house trim perfectly, and you quickly learn that getting it real good is good enough...at least that's true for me. Same goes for interior house trim. I'm not a master craftsman, though I'm pretty good at most stuff, but I can't get two pieces of wood to fit together perfectly no matter how hard I try. Isn't that one reason why the hardware store is in business...to sell me the stuff to fill the bevel cracks and make it look perfect?

My lifetime experiences reinforce the truth of his saying, and I think good almost always wins out over perfect. Just ask the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

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Brian Hoag
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