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Working with my martial arts instructor as a student, I vividly remember her observing my technique and saying to me: “Stop trying to take shortcuts. It takes no more time to do it right than to do it fast."

I had a thousand good reasons why I needed to take shortcuts while doing the technique, but like most lessons my instructor was trying to teach me, I finally realized she was right, and doing the technique “right” was the best choice. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was in “good-enough” mode.

Have you ever been in “good-enough” mode? Have you ever turned a report in to your boss thinking “this will be good enough,” but in reality, after having to go back and rewrite it several times, you realize it would required less time to do it “right” the first time? Have you ever been so tired disciplining your child that you have no more strength to discipline, only to spend far more time in the future with the same discipline issue?

Regardless of what we are doing, we usually know what “right” is, we just choose not to do it. But if you have gone through this process as much as I have, you realize that doing it “good enough” is just an illusion, and for the long term, it takes no more time to do it “right/perfect.” How do you get yourself to start doing things “right”?

1) Dedicate yourself to the perfection of whatever you do. Perfect your character, your relationships, and your work. Realize you are going to end up taking the time anyway, so take the time beforehand to take action absolutely perfect/ right.

2) Understand that you will never be perfect. Wait .. what, you say? If I am trying to be perfect, and I will never become perfect, then why try? It is the struggle for perfection that is the important part. Working for a goal that you never may reach is still a valuable endeavor. You are still better off than when you were trying to be “good enough.”

3) The struggle for perfection will leave you happier and in more control of your life. If you are pushing yourself to become better, instead of your boss or your spouse, you will feel more in control, and more confident in your own abilities.

4) You will inspire those around you. If others see you bettering yourself, they will want to do the same for themselves. They will also want to work harder for you, since you have now set the standard by which they judge themselves.

Dedicate yourself to become perfect in your endeavors, but don’t become obsessed. It takes time to perfect your skills, so you must also develop the patience to discover the way to do it “right.” Develop your mindset that “good enough” will never be good enough; take the time to perfect your character, your relationships, your work, and your daily activities.

Todd Alan Roberts M.D. is a physician and the chief instructor of Aikido of Nebraska, a martial arts school specializing in mind/body/spirit development in kids and adults, through the teaching of traditional martial arts.


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