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Perfection is not instantaneous, not exigent and not speedy.  It is a laborious, tiresome and toilsome journey.

Perfection can be achieved in any field by giving it enough time, patience, perseverance and that “one more thing” as per Steve Jobs that is always required even when you think you are almost there.

Steve Jobs recent demise made me think of how everything that is perfect or even comes close to perfection takes time or that “one more thing.”  There seem to be no short-cuts to perfection and no quick schemes.  Interestingly, it does not matter what you are trying to perfect.  It can be a small thing such as whipping up a perfectly risen delicate soufflé or a colossal and complex project such as inventing and designing the revolutionary Apple gadgets.  It all takes time and massive effort.  The question is what mettle are we made of?  Strong enough to withstand failures and defeats, with only a steel drive propelling us to move forwards towards perfection.  Or do we want to chuck the whole thing after a few tries as it is “just too hard.”

As a confession, in most instances I probably will take the easier or the latter path, only to be burdened later with a heavy sense of regret for having forsaken the sweet taste of perfection and my goal.  Hopefully, writing this blog will be a cathartic experience and will steer me to strive towards perfection in achieving my goals in life, no matter how big or small they are.

Steve Jobs is an example of perfection.  He was a drop-out from college, co-founded Apple Computer only to be ousted nine years later from the extremely lucrative company he founded.  It was not a deterrent for him, but an opportunity to further hone his craft.  He came back with marvels such as the iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad creating a revolution not only in technology, but a cultural revolution that changed the way people listened to music, read books and used computers forever.

His designs are not only highly efficient but an example of style and elegance.  He enabled the world to discard the clunky obsolete gadgets and replace them with minimalistic, highly efficient, utterly cool gadgets.

He can be analogized with pioneers such as Edison or the Wright Brothers.  He was a visionary who with his intelligence, years of toil and hard-work, built a company that consumers cannot get enough bites of.

Hermes is another company that takes extreme pride in perfecting its craft.  It is a rare company in this day and age of mass produced, assembly line, sole focus on “filling-the-quota” kind of products.

Yes, you do pay a premium for Hermes products, but perfection should not come cheap.

Thierry Hermes started the company 74 years ago with a vision.  He brought his vision to fruition by using unsurpassed quality materials, attention to detail and hard work, lots of hard work.  The Hermes bags are a superlative example of quality.  Each Hermes bag is cut by hand, piece by piece with individually inspected materials.  Each artisan works only on three to four bags at a time.  They are made-to-order in the true sense of the word.  Each bag is made by hand, inside and out!

Even the saddle stitch used by the artisans has been in use since the 19th century.  In fact, nothing much has changed in the technique of the design and manufacturing since the inception of the company.

Along with quality, Hermes has been a visionary in marketing and branding.  When celebrity endorsements were unheard of and a rarity, Hermes introduced the Kelly and the Birkin bags, an homage to Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco and the uber stylish Jane Birkin (trivia, she is the mother of Charlotte Gainsbourg.)  The bags have acquired iconic status and cultural eminence.


What about a perfectly scrumptious, delicate, fluffy soufflé?  It is not a dessert that you can order “off a menu” and expect it to be delivered instantaneously.  No, it takes time and patience to make it.  It has to be coddled, delicately whipped and baked for at least a good 45 minutes for it to rise to a cloud of warm, sweet perfection.  You have to order the dessert even before you order the appetizer in order to enjoy it.  It takes time to make a perfect soufflé!

So, to conclude and a note to myself-Keep working towards perfection.  It takes time to perfect perfection, assuming that there is a Utopian point of perfecting perfection.

  • Albert:

    Great post. You’re right, perfection takes a lot of time and effort, and some failure too. You remind me of a story I heard about Oscar Peterson. He was one of the greatest jazz pianists ever. Duke Ellington called him “the Maharajah of the keyboard.” When Oscar was young he went to New York to play the piano. He was already great, but he felt he could be better. Something was missing, that “one more thing.” So he went back to his home in Canada to work on his playing. When he started playing publicly again he was a total monster on the piano. Just untouchable. I’ve heard similar stories about athletes and entertainers. People just going to the woodshed to work on their game and coming out unstoppable. Awesome. Bravo, Mr. Jobs!

  • Right assuming that there is a perfection. I think really just making something really great takes time. I was always taught anything great does not come easy…and anything worth anything means you have to work for it and work at it. Your two examples are real perfect for this idea. I’m working on a Jobs documentary for work and really it has made me so super pensive on him. He really was the Thomas Edison of our time I think.

  • I agree. Perfection does take time, and it’s always worth it. Steve Jobs was a real visionary and did change the world with Apple products. As for Hermes, their bags are truly perfection. I know they’re more expensive, but I don’t mind paying for quality and for a bag that will last forever, rather than a mass produced bag from the high street that will only last a season.

  • Perfection as an ideal is perfect. Striving for perfection always raises the bar. Using the amazingness of Steve Jobs as an example is a good choice. Everytime he created something perfect, he went on to take that technology to another lever of perfection. Imagine being a person who visions to reality change the world in one generation. I can’t imagine being that person, or what it feels like to be that person – but I can imagine that there has to be a huge element of FUN involved. Perfection in objects. And our personal evolution . . .
    Buddha Shakyamuni did, after all, reach perfection. Shall we . . .?

  • ach, I should proofread. sorry.

  • Loved your Hermes post. Thanks.

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