A longtime reader wrote me recently, and we talked a bit about perfectionism and how hard it is to ship: to put one’s work into the world. Every finished project involves compromises, band-aid solutions, and deviations from the original plan, and those changes can paralyze us if we see them as flaws. My friend put it beautifully:

But when I took a look at one of my recent projects that I did start and see through to completion, I realize that there [are] always iterations and changes from the “perfect”, and the end result is a different kind of perfect. It’s reality.

It’s true that our finished work is never the same as the ideal we held in our heads when we first put pencil to paper. But that ideal never really existed—not really, anyway. It was perfect in concept but completely imaginary. Our finished work may be imperfect in concept—even held together with Scotch tape—but it is perfectly real.

And that’s the kind of perfect that matters.