I wanted to follow up on my last post about “serial focus” and “parallel focus” by expanding on the idea that doing multiple things doesn’t mean you can do everything, and you can’t approach everything with full-scale perfectionism.
Yes, you can be the person who runs two companies at once. Still, you probably can’t be the person who runs two companies at once, has a perfectly tidy house, cooks excellent meals from scratch every day, and never forgets a single birthday of an acquaintance or family member. And if you believe that it’s important to remember birthdays, you reasonably send your contacts a text message instead of a hand-drawn postcard. And it’s okay. You have chosen the path of the entrepreneur, and it comes with trade-offs. Of course, that applies to every other set of priorities. You may value your personal life and hobbies over your career, and that’s also okay.
The problem is that we see high achievers in the press and on social media, and we believe they’re perfect in every way, but every successful person probably has at least one area in their life at which they suck. However, they likely have people who have their back to provide the perfect appearance, or they communicate only their strengths while hiding their weaknesses.
There’s another aspect to it. I came across a tweet from Tiago of Forte Labs. He tweeted: “I really value conforming in most areas of work and life, so that in the few you don’t, you can create something truly new and beautiful. If you try to innovate on everything, you end up innovating on nothing”.
That tweet hit me because it’s related to perfectionism for me. I often feel it as the need to do things differently. For example, I have a set of custom-coded phpMAE classes that handle incoming email. But I’m not running an email service. Email is one of the things that should work so I can communicate with clients, business partners, and friends. Of course, experimenting and innovation are excellent, and using phpMAE for this is “selfdogfooding”. It still means I sometimes have to debug code when I just want to read an email. One related area where I’ve made the other choice is to use a micro.blog-hosted blog instead of rolling my own.
More generally, and to return to the high achiever from above, they are presumably quite dull in many areas of their life. Unless they are an eccentric millionaire celebrity, they probably live in a regular house, have a normal relationship and family, and buy and use the same items and tools as the rest of us (or their premium versions). The backdrop of everyday life allows them to make their achievements. It’s something worth thinking about more often.