Progress, not Perfection


I know this looks like a really good idea, but DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME…

One morning last week, having seen my children safely to school, I came into the serenity and silence of my kitchen and made a cup of freshly brewed coffee.  Black, no sugar, piping hot — just like my tea.

And then, eager to begin the day by emailing a fresh lead for a writing gig, I made my way — coffee in hand — over to my beautiful, still nearly brand new, beloved laptop.

You can see where this is going already, can’t you?

You might even be holding your breath…perhaps, hoping against hope, thinking “She didn’t…did she?  She couldn’t have…”

But I did.

Not on purpose, obviously. But it still happened.

As I set the coffee down beside my laptop, the cup tipped…and a warm wave of liquid overwhelmed the keyboard, sank down between the keys, and swamped the inner workings of my marvelous, magical machine.

Oh…the horror…

I’m not going to go into all that happened next, save to say that I was vacillating wildly between panicking that my little friend would not be able to be salvaged and berating myself repeatedly for my massive, monstrous stupidity.

Because that helps, obviously.

And once I’d managed to put the melodramatics aside — which took far longer than I’d like to admit because, believe me, I am more than capable of becoming completely histrionic when such a situation arises — I sucked in a several deep breaths. Then I went to my favourite yoga class and sucked in a few more.

(I may also have called my Dad…because adulting is hard, some days.)

And finally, when I got home from yoga and gingerly inserted the power cord back into the device and discovered that it still wasn’t working, I…

Sighed.  Deeply.

And followed that up with several more big, deep, sob-like sighs…

By this point, you may be wondering why on earth I am writing this? Why am I even admitting to this? Why would someone who prides herself on being organised, of paying attention to detail, of getting things right the first time — not to mention someone who, to earn a living, helps other people to become organised and precise — why would I write about what my kids would call a completely epic fail?

Well, for a couple of reasons, really.

First of all, accidents happen. We all experience setbacks.  We all, as Shakespeare far more elegantly put it, must “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. But it’s what we do in response that counts.  As Victoria Erickson once said, of disappointment:

Don’t immediately brush it off. Feel it first, and it then it will leave you quicker. Here’s the thing about broken glass: it needs to be acknowledged and swept up so you don’t step on it later.

The same thing applies, I suspect, to broken laptops.


Monaghan Boy’s Magic Trick: while what I do is definitely not what Tommy Shelby does with the Peaky Blinders, the guy sure knows how to plan thoroughly and execute precisely — even if it is, sometimes, executing literally.

And that brings me to the second thing: planning. Which includes, of course, planning for potential catastrophes — and explains why I diligently followed my To Do List and backed up my laptop the afternoon before I tipped coffee all over it.

Procedures. Systems. Contingency Plans. They might sound (and frequently are) incredibly boring and mundane but believe me, they have their place. And while adhering to my regular backup procedure won’t replace my laptop, it does mean that all my data — and everything last thing I have been working on for my clients — is safe and accessible.

This life — whether it be at home, or at work — is not about achieving perfection. It’s not about managing to snatch a second or two upon a glittering pinnacle. It’s not about being flawless or faultless, because we’re human beings, after all.

Rather, I would argue that life is about striving for progress, not perfection, and about aiming to be our best and most consistent selves, each and every day. Because I would also suggest that our reaction to a situation can, quite literally, have the power to change the situation itself. And the plans we make and execute can leave us in a much better position than we might have been otherwise.


And, just for the record: Tommy would never tip coffee over his laptop because he, as we know, is a man who drinks tea.

Even when we tip hot coffee on our laptops.

Well, that’s what I think, anyway.

Blue Jai

PS: When did you last do a back up?


Blue Jai Creative – freelance writing and administration services for your home and business, servicing Sydney’s Northern Beaches and beyond.

© Blue Jai Creative 2016


6 thoughts on “Progress, not Perfection

  1. I love this line – “I may also have called my Dad…because adulting is hard, some days.” I feel for you. It happened to me the week I turned 30 (which was already a terrible week for many reason) in the middle of a grad school class. I stood up in the middle of the lecture, shouted some expletives, and ran out of the room with my laptop – maybe thinking all that was going to save it? I don’t keep anything locally. I work off One Drive 100% of the time so nothing ever gets lost again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was truly surprised that I didn’t yell any expletives when it happened — it was more like, “no No NO NO NOOOOOOO!!!” in increasingly anguished tones. The swearing came later, when I realised that there was little chance of it being resurrected (particularly with the overpowering smell of coffee emanating from the keyboard)! But it has made me think about alternate back up solutions, so thanks for the recommendation! BJx


  2. I did a backup when I finally moved from work PC to work Mac. (Which now needs to happen again as Work Mac is no longer supported by Apple, even though it’s a box that’s more powerful than the current lot of iMacs. Thanks, jerks.) But that was a lucky backup: I only have the data because I was able to pull the drives out of the system and use them with a cradle: something that’s not hard, but something that a lot of people wouldn’t think was an option, maybe, or wouldn’t have the tenacity to persevere with.

    (It also allowed me to, as I pulled my databases off the disk, celebrate by taking to it with a hammer when it finally died. I recommend heavily.)

    I’m in the process of *having* to institute decent backups, because new Macs don’t come with the storage options old Mac Pros do. I’ve got a bunch of disks in mine that I can’t replicate without plugging the new computer into another box-o-disks (which I’ll need for music stuff) and so given that I have to buy a kinda-sorta mini-server, I’m gonna go the whole hog and just get myself a Crashplan or Carbonite backup subscription to handle offsite stuff, and will end up getting *another* server to stick in a cupboard which can act as a local backup/Time Machine. This will be the first time I will have enough disk space in one location to bring everything together at once, which will also make backups easier.

    In theory, anyway.

    After spending years reformatting PCs and going through the bullshit of reinstalling everything over HOURS, I’m gonna just start regularly imaging my computers so I can just roll stuff straight out. I’ve finally reached the point where I just don’t have enough time (or the inclination) to be going on with this.

    Not when there’s books to be read, anyway.


    • YES! Books to be read…weirdly enough the only thing that could get my mind out of the “You’re so incredibly stupid to have let this happen” cycle was sitting down with Richard Flanagan’s Narrow Road to the Deep North. Because obviously any day on the Burma Railroad would have been worse…


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