Stop Tweaking Blog


tweak

verb (used with object)

  1. to pinch and pull with a jerk and twist:
  2. to pull or pinch the nose of, especially gently:
  3. to make a minor adjustment to:

I could write a blog about any of the definitions of “tweak,” but my focus today is on definition #3.  More specifically, I’m thinking of the incessant adjustments that many of us (me included) feel is needed before we release whatever we are working on for public consumption.

Tweaking

Suppose we write an email to someone of influence.  We want it to be correct in every imaginable way, so it is scrutinized, reviewed, and re-written endlessly.  We worry over grammar and sentence structure beyond what the thirty seconds of reading will ever comprehend.

 This short, relatively informal email has lost all of its life because of the endless polishing.  It no longer reflects you and your personality but that of some dusty English grammar textbook.

Your constant tweaking robbed most of the meaning from the message you were attempting to deliver.  It no longer reflects you and your personality.

Reason for Tweaking

To get our tweaking under control, we need to have some comprehension of why we feel the need to tweak in the first place.  While the reasons vary, for the most part, this is a misplaced understanding of perfectionism.

Many incorrectly think perfectionism is a needed form of the pursuit of excellence.  When we pursue excellence, we want to do something as well as possible given a set of talents, resources, and time.  Perfectionism, however, is a pride- or fear-based compulsion that fuels our fixation on doing something perfectly.

The reason we chase perfectionism is we focus on the results and not on the process.  We write an email for the results we hope it will get instead of writing an email for the sake of communicating.  We design a house for the sake of designing a fantastic, award-winning structure instead of thinking of designing a house.  We design software thinking of all the benefit it gives people instead of thinking of designing software to solve a specific technical problem.

 In each case, when we think of only the end product, we cannot stop thinking of all the things we need to add, improve, and adjust.  That cycle never ends, and it ruins whatever we are working on.

Solution to Tweaking

 Software developers have a great idea in the concept of minimum viable product (MVP).  They produce the absolutely minimum needed to meet their commitments and then make modifications dictated by how the software is used and on user feedback.  The software is designed only for what the user will use it for and doesn’t include any ancillary bells and whistles that most, if not all, users will never touch.

In the case of writing the email, write only what is necessary to convey your message and nothing more.  The reader of the email will read it and either react or respond by asking further questions.  The quality of the text, grammar, and sentence structure beyond conveying the message is superfluous.

The Bible

 The Bible is the answer to the need to be perfect.  There is only one perfect person in all 66 books of the Bible, and that is Jesus.  All of the other people, including the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, saints, and disciples are all flawed people, some severely so.

 And the message is we do not have to be perfect because Jesus was perfect and He is our advocate with God the Father.

1 John 4:12 says.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

The desire to continually tweak our work is a monstrous weigh that we need to lay aside.  Strive for the minimum viable product and use your new-found free time to work toward excellence.