It’s not about perfection. It’s about excellence.

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”

― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”

― Michael J. Fox

In the Whiteboard tech team, we have a healthy internal struggle between striving for perfect code and shipping product.

Perhaps you’ve faced a similar dilemma: It’s launch hour, and somehow something in your CSS slipped by you. Do you a) get your entire dev environment up and fix the problem, and redeploy, b) write inline styles to fix it for now, and create an issue on GitHub, or c) create an issue on GitHub for later and launch with bugs?

I’d imagine every one of us would have a “it depends” kind of answer. It depends on what you mean by development environment. It depends on how much later. It may depend on what the CSS fix is (is it a transition, or a font-size?).

The truth is, so much of our daily jobs is made up of decisions like this. In a perfect world, we would NEVER go against best practices — we would always choose option A. In a perfect world, everyone’s server has Git installed. We never need SFTP in a perfect world.

The problem is, we don’t always have the time or energy to expend to turn best-practices into “always”-practices.

Our Answer: Reject Perfection, Embrace Excellence

Instead of cultivating our love for perfection, we instead marry ourselves to excellence. Excellence has room for quick fixes. Excellence gives space for mistakes to be fixed in due time. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the fast moving world of web development, it is that no single best practice will stay the best practice forever; however, striving for excellence gives us the opportunity to discover best practices while sanely managing priorities and less than ideal circumstances.

We place value on great code. We place value on shipping that code. We place a danger sign on perfection, and we scratch out our own map to excellence daily.

It’s not about being the best; it’s about constantly getting better.

No matter what industry you are in, one thing is almost invariably true: industries change. If you are the best now, hold on tight: someone is coming for you. Reaching the top doesn’t make you king. It means you are first place in an eternal race. To retain that position, you’re going to need to keep running.

It’s not about being in first place. It’s not about writing the best code, or making the most pixel-perfect design. It’s about progress, about getting better. It’s about taking what you’ve learned, and realizing that there’s more to learn every day. It’s about executing, about every stride in the run.

I can happily and confidently say that we never will arrive at a destination. We will always be running a race towards better, faster, more powerful creations. What are you running towards?

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