When Maximizing Something Becomes A Waste Of Time
In 2012, a Cleveland government employee by the name of Tom Pavelka obtained a title.
This 56-year-old man at the time was known as the man who had the “highest credit score in America” with the credit score of 848. He was informed of this from his own credit bureau and this earned him a cool twelve seconds of fame.
This was Tom’s reward for achieving something that would otherwise be incredibly difficult for other people. But this action warrants two questions to be asked about all of this:
What would he get if hit 850 (the perfect score)?
But more importantly…
What’s the point of achieving that score?
Because as far as experts are concerned, the magic number for credit scores to have the “excellent standings” is 760. Anything above that will give you similar rewards.
So whether you have 760 or 848, your efforts will net you pretty much the same rewards.
This reminds me a lot of perfectionists or gamers who min-max the shit out of a game.
They’re the kind of people who aren’t full on perfectionists, but they are walking close to the limits of certain things. It’s like levelling your character in an RPG to level 99 when you’re halfway through the game.
Or like Tom Pavelka, achieving a nearly perfect credit score.
I can understand why some people do that.
We discovered Pavelka because he achieved something no one else bothered to do in 2012.
I can understand the satisfaction of utterly crushing boss after boss with little effort for the remainder of a game.
But I still ask myself…
What’s the point?
Wouldn’t we find more satisfaction in defeating a big or annoying boss when we are under-levelled in a game?
You know, the whole underdog story.
Wouldn’t we be happy with having a credit score where we can reap those “excellent standings” ratings no matter what?
When Is Enough, Enough?
We all know that perfection is not entirely achievable. In business, we can’t worry about every tiny detail.
Getting from 0% to 90% is more progress than 91% to 100%.
There comes a point where getting that 100% — or getting really close to it — is simply a waste of time and energy on our part. Primarily because the rewards that we receive are substantially lower than if we continued on the natural path.
There’s more satisfaction in a video game if you overcome a challenge in which both people have the same level of skill.
All the same, there’s more satisfaction when your “unfinished” product happens to be a great product that people will buy. It can fund the modifications and additions you wanted to make. Furthermore, it gives you knowledge of the market and whether people actually need your product.
We know getting to 100% is a waste of time. In business, it’s important for us to launch something as quickly as we can at our current abilities. But I would argue that it’s better for us to launch something — or write things off — when we are at that 90% completion.
I’m talking about our goals, scores, ambitions, and dreams. Not just business.
Lao Tzu once said:
“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”
There is nothing wrong with going back and building on something that you finished. Once you hit your credit score past 760, your efforts are meaningless in terms of getting an actual reward.
It’s at the point where getting anything higher is more for bragging rights. Or like what Pavelka experienced — twelve seconds of fame.
But what’s important is that once you hit that 90%, you stop yourself. You enjoy the rewards and the benefits. From the overall satisfaction that you get for hitting a goal to the more tangible rewards whatever they happen to be.
And it’s at that time where you sit down and you ask yourself:
Is this enough?
Because people min-maxing their credit scores to get from 800 to 820 is pointless. Credit card experts have told us 760 is all you really need to hit the best rewards.
Grinding to level 99 or 100 in an RPG would take as much time as getting through the game naturally in most circumstances.
And perfecting a product or making adjustments before launching simply means you’re delaying a launch in which you can get invaluable information from.
And in the end, what’s to say going that extra mile will bring you more satisfaction?
After all, when you hit a certain point, you’re already reaping as much as what the system can offer. It’s at this point where we should reflect on our achievements and move on to other things.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon