The Bow Tie Effect: Why Sometimes Good is Better than Perfect
by Tim Walker
Perfection is overrated.
It can also be damaging. The perfect interview. The perfect candidate. The perfect job. The perfect suit. The perfect hair, makeup or shave. How often do we strive to make things perfect?
You may have heard the saying “Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.” It’s an old Italian proverb that I think really gets to the point. Sometimes we try so hard to make things perfect that we lose an opportunity for something that’s good.
This happens a lot in our businesses and our careers. A lot of times job seekers will spend so much time and effort planning out the perfect outfit or the perfect interview responses. However, things rarely work out perfectly. There are always bumps in the road and unexpected things. Leaving an interview that was less than perfect is ok. In fact, it may even be better than perfect.
Dr. Alex Lickerman puts it like this in an article on Psychology Today:
“We lose perspective on the quality of our creations the moment we create them. And the more we pore back over them in pursuit of a fresh perspective, the farther it moves away from us. Combine this with the need for perfection and the result is often paralysis.”
Me? I simply call it the bow tie effect. Just about anyone can spot a “fake” or clip on bow tie. They’re just a little TOO perfect. Perfect angles. A perfect knot. No one could possibly tie something so perfect! In fact, for bow tie aficionados, a perfectly tied bow tie is, well, less than perfect.
Let’s take two of the world’s most famous leaders for example. How many times have you seen a picture of Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln? Both were famous for their bow ties. Take a closer look and you’ll notice that their knots were far from perfect.
(images courtesy: Wikipedia)
The mark of a great bow tie knot (and by extension, the person wearing the bow tie) is its imperfection. It lends the knot character. It makes it different. It also let’s others know that it isn’t a fake bow tie!
I think the same goes for us in our careers. We don’t have to be perfect to be great. Our flaws are there and they are what make us human! Don’t worry if you didn’t nail your interview. Don’t worry if you didn’t complete a job with flawless perfection. And don’t let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of doing good work!
And please, if you’re going to wear a bow tie, spring for one of the real ones!