Many of you know that I was a CFO/Controller for many years, and a big chunk of those years I worked for American subsidiaries of Japanese companies. They had this interesting perspective around budgets. They very much wanted the budget to be accurate, perfect if you will. Neither over, nor under!
Mostly, in the US, under budget is a good thing, although there are fascinating stories of people spending in lavish and weird ways to make it appear that they really did need everything they asked for…the film industry comes to mind. But I digress.
Initially, I was pretty bewildered when I was informed by the home company’s accounting that I was supposed to have the budget be right on. I informed the powers that be that “the only way to have the budget be entirely accurate is to complete it after the end of the period”. And that report is not actually called a budget. It’s more of a Profit/Loss statement. You see, it’s a timing thing. I can’t actually see into the future. I can predict but I can’t know what it really is until the future actually arrives.
I bring this up as a new way to look at the whole perfection knot we get ourselves tangled in. We want to be perfect, have everything nice and tidy, in life and in money. The problem really is that we won’t know what perfect will be until things are done. And there are so many possibilities of outcomes, deciding that there is only one that is perfect seems a bit premature, doesn’t it?
The other thought that comes to mind is that while we are pushing for ‘perfection’ we are also missing possibilities for delightful side trips along the way. This idea makes me think of how we create rituals around things, expecting that by having the ritual be perfect the experience will follow and it too will be perfect. Holiday dinners come to mind. And yet maybe the year when the Turkey burnt and you all ate PB & J sandwiches was really the best one of all time? Maybe the definition of perfection needs to be a bit less perfect?
It’s one of the challenges around money isn’t it? What would the perfect amount of money be? And what did you miss noticing, experiencing and enjoying while you were in pursuit of that number?
This blog was inspired by a little ditty, referred to as a Grook, by Piet Hein. It seems to me to be the perfect closing J
There’s an art to knowing when,
Never try to guess,
Toast until it smokes and then
twenty seconds less.