Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why we dont seek perfection?

Continuing a thought from before on perfection.

I picked up yet another set of Lego blocks recently - I am a big fan of them. The pieces on every Lego are perfect, nothing less than that. Each block seamlessly meshes with the others, the instructions are perfect and every single thing on their instructions (we call it the "idea book") can be made. Over the past few years is when I have really seen Lego. They are perfect and I mean perfect.

When I was a kid, we had many similar blocks available in India. But you could start from the pack itself. The colour outside would be different from the content inside. The instructions would not necessarily be easy to follow - it would include more blocks than was provided in the pack. The blocks themselves never meshed well, there were protrusions and size discrepancies which meant that every single thing you made was less than perfect.

On the face of it, it is easy to dismiss this as a rich mans toy versus a poor mans toy. But connect it every single thing you faced when you grew up. How many things were perfect? It was always a matter of adjustment to a less than perfect condition. Think school, think college. How many assignments were submitted in a perfect way, that you, as the submitter were happy about the way it was done, than the fact that it finally was completed? Think carpenter, think plumber, think bank, think transport.

Therefore, perfection, in our minds, atleast for generations till now, is more an aberration than a regular occurrence. For us perfection is more an exception, than a rule! Is this why we find it so bizarre when someone seeks perfection at work, atleast initially?

A continuing chain of thought, more as it develops...


Chandrashekar said...

Excellence is an extremity.Having the hoary legacy of Buddha( Middle path) and Krishna's Bhagavad Gita which eggs us to only do our best and not worry about the result are possible reasons that can be attributed for Indians not seeking excellence passionately.

Venks said...

No ways I dont think we can blame Karma or religion. Its just all about laziness, the lack of drive to go one step furhtur.Indians react to only one stimulus and thts called a kick on Butt....which is why the current generation which can afford to pay for better stuff is pushing businesses to deliver more, better, faster, cleaner. The standards have improved and will keep improving.Kaizen in life types!

Anonymous said...

Chandrashekar's comment doesn't appear to be entirely without merit. The entire Gandhian mentality and post-independence mostly-socialist mindset had borne out the idea of simple means and viewing rich people with contempt. With no monetary motivation, and our drive entirely arising from doing "just the needful", is it any surprise that mediocrity is the result?

Neelakantan said...

The Gita and Buddhas teachings as well as Gandhis, do not really influence youngsters. In most schools the first two are barely taught the latter is just a history lesson. To me thats just an excuse.

Which is why I think it is more from a collection of experiences that we have lived through. And I think that the present generation is changing that, slowly...

Preetha Nair said...

could anything be perfect in life at all ...?? should you even bother to seek it?

where would be room for improving if things are found and done perfect....

gregory said...

so varied... the carpenter is fabulous at making the windows square, the mason at least works to make the walls vertical... pride in craft

it seems that industrialists don't give a damn, their pride is in making money

Neelakantan said...

Preetha, I get your point, when I say perfection, I actually do not mean perfection. I mean, something very basic - customer satisfaction. Of delivering what you promised.

Gregory, no this also applies to the carpenter as much as the car company.

Savitha Rao said...

Terrific post.

I don't think the Bhagvad Gita urging to do our best and not worry about the results can be a cause of the sub optimal environment in India . If every one (or even a lot of people ) sought to do their best India would be a vastly different country.

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Madhusudan said...

I agree with Mr. Neelkantan.

Buddha and Bhagavad Gita are hardly to be blamed because neither has the population of country read nor do they follow it. Its a mere excuse.

It is lack of impetus on character development at academic level which is bringing out duds after duds from Indian schools.