Vitamin MBA – Perfect vs. Good

In our blog, we provide news, tips and tools to help you navigate the MBA admissions process. Despite the high volume of information that gets printed every week, we do not regularly address the fact that many applicants face a set of challenges that are very different from GPA, GMAT and resume. I want to help applicants work through road blocks to success that may include self-doubt, anxiety, procrastination and generally feeling overwhelmed by this process. Hopefully with a bit of “Vitamin MBA” I can help you to overcome these challenges so that you can put our other resources to work and truly excel on your applications. I now present you with a dose of “Vitamin MBA”:

The Happiness Project blog wrote about the idea of perfect vs. good. I thought this was very relevant to the work we do with MBA applications because so many people become paralyzed by the idea of having to draft the most perfect essays. I am a big fan of taking the plunge and writing something…anything, as opposed to spiraling and agonizing over every word because every draft has to be perfect… We touch on the idea of taking the plunge in our HBS essay tips post, as well.

Read on for excerpts from her post.

Voltaire is the great thinker responsible for the observation, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

I’ve found this precept to be extremely useful with my happiness project. Instead of pushing myself to an impossible “perfect,” and therefore getting nowhere, I accept “good.”

This sounds sensible enough, you’re thinking, but how does it actually work in real life? Here are some examples:

  • I floss sometimes. Not every day. Sometimes.
  • I don’t push myself in exercise. I have friends who, I suspect, secretly scoff at my mild work-out routines. But because they never exercise except to push themselves to the max, they never go, and I’ve been exercising consistently since high school.
  • I don’t call, I email. When I told someone about my April resolution to send my friends birthday emails, he said, “But you should call! A call is much better.” True, I admit. But I hate the phone, and I won’t call. But I will send an email.

Obviously most of the examples are not terribly relevant to your MBA applications, but I think the concept is. I have clients who spend weeks and even months gearing up with spreadsheets and checklists and outlines in order to approach this process perfectly. Others just dive in and get started. If you find yourself trapped in the pursuit of perfection, remember that this is the “enemy of GOOD”.


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