The perfect color doesn't exist. But good choices can add up to something sublime.

The perfect color doesn't exist. But good choices can add up to something sublime.

Some people can get hung up by table linens. Wedding planning reveals this malady perfectly. For some families the simple act of figuring out what a place setting should look like can turn into major moments of hand-wringing. I'm not suggesting that these kinds of aesthetic decisions don’t matter. (Even if I AM using a double negative to say so.) If the goal at hand is to plan a wedding reception and decorate a space, there must be decisions made about a long list of practicalities. (Of course, one of the advantages of getting married around a campfire is that some of those decisions simply don't need to be made. Not that I would know anything about that…)

But back to the main point. When it comes to choosing the perfect color for table linens, the answer is simple: the perfect color doesn’t exist. Decisions need to be made, and colors and patterns likely have to agree in a pleasing way, but perfection will never be measurable criteria.

Creative enterprise can get stuck in its own process. We all know people who are incapable of completing tasks because they second-guess themselves over and over and over again. Many people struggle to complete tasks because they can't find the right word. Or color. Or table linen. Or… whatever. They struggle to believe that they have the answer to the question of the moment. But if you pay attention to people who have track records of completing complicated things,  you'll find people who not only can make decisions, but realize that good decisions made efficiently, one after another, often have a much better effect on outcomes than great decisions determined after long, tedious evaluation. If there's no such thing as perfection, the next best thing is quality, and it's much easier to pursue quality than perfection.

The trick is to keep moving without compromising your own standards. A mediocre aesthetic decision is not acceptable, with the exceedingly rare exception that all other solutions having been expended. Most of the time all other solutions have not been expended; there’s usually a good decision waiting to be discovered and deployed. But when a creative person or team will only accept the absolute best, the one-and-only solution for solving an aesthetic problem, the project is destined or a bumpy ride and the chances of overall success go down.

Keep your standards high, but keep moving. After all, the day isn’t going to last forever, and if you don’t complete the task at hand, your qualitative assessment won’t matter either. You can’t assess what you fail to finish.

@michaelstarobin                or   

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