Persistence without Perfection can be harzardous

April 25, 2010
persistence without perfection

Persistence without perfection may just be a bio-hazard

Is persistence without perfection to be admired? If the final outcome is positive, it often is. If the outcome is negative, persistence is generally seen as stubbornness.

Tapioca is a starch extracted from the Manihot esculenta plant. This plant can cause a paralytic disease from the toxins it contains, if consumed regularly over several weeks. The Mayans are thought to have developed the process for extracting the cyanide from the plant. The cyanide was used for the tips of their blow darts. Is this another example of how the search for military weapons gave rise to life-supporting invention or the other way around? And what does this tell us about persistence?

If the Mayans kept eating the Manihot esculenta plant and kept dying, we would hardly admire them. The lethal power of the plant must have awed them at first, but they determined to understand and harness it. Perhaps once they had, they felt emboldened to eat the plant, knowing that the toxin had been removed.

Persistence pays, but only if it’s mixed with perfectionism. Sustained energy isn’t enough to guarantee success. It must be matched with careful study and minute adjustments, based upon new learning.

(Trivia: Many use the example of  the inventor of 409 cleaning formula, Morris D. Rouff, when discussing persistence, believing that it took him 409 tries to discover the formula. It turns out the name of the product was more of a romantic gesture to his wife Ruth, whose birthday was April 9th.)

Are you both persistent and a perfectionist in your pursuit? If not, how might your life, team, or organization change if you added one of those traits?

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