When Good is More Satisfying than Perfect

During a crisp autumn afternoon trek along the archery trail of a local Field and Stream club I was struck by thought.   Although we live in a world that values perfection, there are times when good is better than perfect.

Using a traditional longbow, I was shooting at a target of a bear from a distance of 40 yards. While all five arrows managed to hit the bear, only one hit exactly at the intended spot on the target. In other words, while it was good shooting, the perfect-to-good ratio was 1:4 (20% perfect). At that distance I was quite satisfied. If I had been using a compound bow instead of a longbow it is more likely that the perfect to good ratio would have been 4:1 (80% perfect); a crossbow, 5:0 (100% perfect). The reason for the discrepancy is simple. Compound bows and crossbows include technologies that provide the archer with sights and mechanisms that measurably increase accuracy, especially at longer distances. Most long bows require instinctive shooting. Much like a pitcher trying to throw a fastball down the middle of strike zone, longbow shooters don’t aim at the target; they shoot at the target.

Like a fastball in the strike zone, a perfect shot is not a random event we occasionally wish for. With proper training, body mechanics and practice, archers develop an “instinct” for hitting the target. Said differently they develop, and hone, a skill. To be clear, hitting a target 4 of five times with a compound bow from 40 yards also requires skill, but one that relies more heavily on technology.

At that moment the thought struck me that is there is something measurably more satisfying when a goal is accomplished with limited resources through hard work and training; especially when the odds are against it. Maybe that is why accomplished entrepreneurs often seem so happy.

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