Tag Archives: failure

How important is perfection?

Are you a perfectionist? If so, in what areas?

I think it would be difficult to be a perfectionist in everything, indeed, in anything.

I have never considered myself to be a perfectionist, though others have occasionally labelled my attitude to work that way. I do have certain standards that I like to meet, and I always strive to attain them, to do the best I can. I concede that my expectations of spelling, grammar and punctuation correction may tend towards perfection, but if I can, why would I not? Of course, the occasional imperfection will slip through. It is difficult to catch all when we are editing and proofing our own work. However, if I spot any, I will quickly change them, embarrassed that I let them escape.

There are many areas in which I am far from a perfectionist – especially housework. I’ll do what needs to be done, but only if I must; and my idea of need may differ vastly from yours. I am often reminded of my mother’s words when I’d completed a household chore; for example, sweep the steps, when I was a child. She’d comment that I’d given it a “lick and a promise”. These days, housework rarely gets more than a promise, a promise I’m not good at keeping.

As a teacher of young children, it was not perfection I was looking for in their work, but for the best they could do. I expected their work to reflect their development. If they were capable of the calculation, spelling or of using the correct punctuation, I expected them to use it. Opportunities to revise answers and responses were given and improvement was encouraged.

I’ve hedged around this topic a few times in posts; such as, Is contentment compatible with a growth mindset? The end, Phrasing praise and What is failure.

But how do we decide when good enough is good enough and that we have put in as much effort as the task requires? I know there are many who agree with me about housework, but what about other things; maybe like, hanging a picture, following a recipe, parking a car, making a payment, checking copyright, or painting a room?

I recently watched a TED Talk by Jon Bowers entitled We should aim for perfection and stop fearing failure. Bowers provides some different perspectives on the topic of perfectionism, challenging an adjustment to thinking.

He begins by discussing typos. We’ve all made them, haven’t we? The seemingly innocuous typo can give us a good laugh at times. But it can also do a lot of damage.

Bowers tells us that “one little typo on Amazon’s supercode produced a massive internet slowdown that cost the company over 160 million dollars in the span of just four hours”, and “an employee at the New England Compound, which is a pharmaceutical manufacturer, didn’t clean a lab properly and now 76 people have died and 700 more have contracted meningitis.”

Bowers says,

“When did we come to live in a world where these types of typos, common errors, this do-your-best attitude or just good enough was acceptable? At some point, we’ve stopped valuing perfection, and now, these are the type of results that we get. You see, I think that we should all seek perfection, all the time, and I think we need to get to it quick.”


He talks about the need for perfection when behind the wheel of a vehicle. How many lives are lost daily through inattention, through lack of perfection?

credit card

He talks about the need for credit card manufacturers to demand perfection. How would it be if even 1% of our credit cards didn’t work properly?


He says that “if the Webster’s Dictionary was only 99.9 percent accurate, it would have 470 misspelled words in it.  If our doctors were only 99.9 percent correct, then every year, 4,453,000 prescriptions would be written incorrectly, and probably even scarier, 11 newborns would be given to the wrong parents every day in the United States.”

He goes on to make many other statements that I’m sure will get you thinking too. At less than 11 minutes in length, the time commitment is far less than the potential learning gain.

When I watched this video, I was contemplating my response to this week’s flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Charli shared a “possibly spam” email received as an entry into the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest #2: Little and Laugh. You can read the email in Charli’s post, which also includes the challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fictional story about The Real Nanjo Castille. (The spammer).

I thought the email to be a little too clever to be real spam, too many clever word choices, phonetic spellings, and our favourite: bitchcoin, that could be purchased for ten dollars, $20 or £20. And the poor writer has an identity crisis, not sure whether to spell his or her name Nanjo or Najno.

I wondered about how the performance of this child in school might be viewed and what profession might be suggested as a goal.

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

A job for Nanjo?

The parents waited.

Start positive, she reminded herself.

“Nanjo has a wonderful imagination.”

They smiled.

“Very creative too, especially with spelling and punctuation.”

They exhaled.

“Has trouble understanding money though, and his knowledge of number facts is non-existent – “ she hesitated, then continued quietly. “I can’t think of any employer who’d have him.”


“I mean, employment, suited to his – ah – special skills.”

She cracked.

“I’m sorry. Your son is unemployable. His spelling and grammar is atrocious. He can’t even spell his own name, for god’s sake! I don’t think he could even get a job as a spammer!”

Make sure to check the results of Contest #2 at the Carrot Ranch. I’m not the winner. Nor is it Nanjo. Could it be you?

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

What do you bomb at?

According to my online sources, including internetslang.com, bomb can mean “something really bad” or “something really good”.

The urbandictionary.com states that before 1997 it meant “something really bad; a failure”; and that since 1997 it has referred to something excellent, and if preceded by the word ‘the’ it means the best!

My use of the word “bomb” fits neatly into the pre-1997 definition. Perhaps it’s not surprising since I lived most of my life so far pre-1997! Hopefully, should I live long enough, half of my life will be lived after 1997 as well, but I’ve a while to wait to see if that happens!

In my day the word “bomb” was often used to describe an old beat-up car. I bought my first car when it was ten years old. It may have been described by many as a bomb (it burned oil and smoked terribly amongst other things) but I loved it, adorned it with flower stickers and even named it “Ziggy”.

car Ziggy

Nowadays cars seem to last a lot longer before they earn the title of bomb. Dare I say our 1997 car has only in recent years earned that title, and really only after it became unsightly due to hail damage and deterioration of the paintwork. It has been replaced by a car we might call “the bomb” but it still sits in the front yard and gets an occasional outing, too precious for someone (other than me!) to part with.


The most common use of the word as a verb was to refer to failure, particularly with regard to exams. After what felt to be a particularly dismal attempt at an exam, various students would bemoan its difficulty saying, “I bombed”. I have talked about failure in previous posts including my “failure” at singing here, and the failure of some aspects of schooling here. The word ‘bomb’ doesn’t appear in either of those posts.

It was Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch who got me thinking about bombing with her Nov 12: Flash Fiction Challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a photo bomb (serious scene interrupted by something absurd or unexpected).

Now Charlie was talking about photo bombs which she described as an “earnest photograph interrupted by the unexpected”, but I thought I would tackle video bombs. I knew I had made quite a few of those!

In an effort to learn more about making videos, which has been on my to-do list for ages, I also decided to make a compilation of video bombs to accompany my 99 words, while endeavouring to meet both Charli’s criteria and mine:


99 words



99 words that make sense (always a priority)

find videos to match the 99 words

make a compilation video

record the video and words

My attempt is quite experimental and rather rudimentary at best but I learned a lot in the process. Since my blog is about learning, I decided to share it with you as a checkpoint on my learning journey. I know it’s definitely not “the bomb”, but I hope I haven’t totally bombed.


In the words of C.S. Lewis,

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”


Video bombing

Are you a video bomber?

Ever tried making a video but

the subject won’t cooperate,

or turns its back to you,

or perhaps it even disappears Poof! It’s out of view.

You shoot upside down or to the side,

the focus you can’t get right.

You shoot with the camera supposedly off,

then close-up your fingers when on.

You record to capture a photo,

or snap when it’s action you want.

If your answer is ‘Yes” to just one of these

come join the vid-bombers club.

We’ll commiserate

And then celebrate

When your video capture’s “the bomb”!

Thank you

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post, flash fiction or video.