A while ago we were talking about perfectionism. I've heard the terms "Type A" and "Type B" personality forever but never really felt compelled to ask what they meant. After a bit of googling I think I understand Type A to be the intense, hard-working, approval-seeking, perfectionist type, and Type B are the easy going, creative, loosey-goosey types. Most descriptions I've seen place Type A as a slightly offensive label to give a person: they're at higher risk of heart disease, of becoming crazy, of really annoying you, etc. Anyway, it relates to the perfectionism comment because Josh said in passing that he was a Type B perfectionist (which I'm not sure I understand... Josh, care to elaborate?).
In the back of my head I realize that I've been trying to figure out if I'm a perfectionist or not... I've claim to be both a perfectionist and an imperfectionist at various times and maybe it's just not a label that makes much sense to slap on a problem as complicated as whether or not you'll see a problem through to its optimal solution.
At work there are a lot of virtues that go against perfectionism. Perfectionism leads to misallocated resources... because you end up working on polishing the last 5% of something so long that you could've gotten something else 95% completed in the meantime. It leads to making decisions based on your own intuition rather than waiting for feedback from others to cycle in. Or at least, that's how one interpretation of perfectionism goes.
There's another type of perfectionist... and maybe what I'm getting at is that we're all perfectionists, we just have a different scope within which to be perfect. I've often thought, and perhaps said once or twice that passion is a bad trait to possess. I define passion as caring about something more than it deserves to be cared about. However, in a group, passion is seen as a good thing because if you care more about keeping the toilet clean than I think is worth caring about, then that means that I can care less about it. Passionate people are helpful because they take care of things that I like to have taken care of but which I don't want to take care of. I'm glad people at Apple are passionate about making a beautiful OS, because I don't care enough about the OS to build such a beautiful one myself. I'm glad people in the medical profession are passionate about the effect of chemicals on my body because I like being able to pay a few bucks for vitamins and being reasonably confident that they'll work even though I don't care much about how they work, much less about creating these magical minerals myself.
So, perhaps I'm lazy. A freeloader. I want to eat the cake that I didn't help make. But really, that's why I'm so glad that people are passionate about the things I don't care about, because I don't have to feel like a freeloader. You claim to really like making fancy drinks, and I'm happy to drink them.
What do I care about more than it deserves to be cared about? Well, by my nature I probably care more about myself than I deserve to be cared about. I am a selfish creature and so I'm self-interested. Passionate and perfectionist about my own life. But perfectionism doesn't quite apply in that context... it's usually applied to a part of the world, a part that we can contribute to. Like perhaps cooking. Or watching movies. Or climbing Mt. Everest. Or building robots. Or using CSS to control the display of a website. Or having a family. Or not eating animals. Personality is in a large part determined (or at least broadcast) as a series of dots between passions that you can connect with a magic marker. You stand out from the crowd by displaying the things that you care about that the crowd doesn't care as much about... but which the crowd is happy that someone cares about cause they can use you as a point person when they need to solve a problem in your domain. You become a useful member of society by being placed in people's mental toolbox to solve certain obscure but occasionally important problems. Am I exaggerating? Does the world work differently than this?
I'm not a perfectionist. Of course, I could never label myself as one since I believe that I care about everything exactly as much as it deserves to be cared about. I don't think it would be appropriate to care more. When I find that maybe I care too much, it opens up the possibility that another care could be wanting, and so I shift my care to that thing. But that's not true either. I allow for some sloppy caring to happen and hope that momentum will balance things out in the wash. For example, I care entirely too much about furniture at the moment, but only because I have to ramp up my caring as it comes time to buy new furniture for my loft. Before, I didn't care enough, now I care too much, and after I buy the furniture I'll go back to caring too little I presume. The controls on these knobs are pretty sloppy. But I like the sloppiness. It opens the door for ridiculousness and that is always a good thing. Perhaps I'm passionate about being ridiculous. That's to offset my fear that I'd appear too serious otherwise.