Perfection in India

If you try to be a pure perfectionist in India, in whatever field, it is likely that you would fail royally.

India is full of imperfections, and one can see it all around. It is important to understand the limitations, and to adjust, rather than trying to change the fundamental nature of the place. It is unlikely to change in the near or medium future.

Frustrations set in when you try to impose a set of standards or expectations on the people around. When the expectations are not met, or met only to the extent of, say 60%, is that a reflection of the capabilities of the people ? May be not.

May be it that you need to change and acclimatize yourself better in an environment which cherishes any kind of achievement – not 100% achievement ! The constraints are just too many, and it is difficult to achieve perfectionism.

I think that statement is generally true in many countries, and is less true in a place like Singapore or Hong Kong. The constraints in these places are less, the environment is better, the limitations are mostly addressable, and potential for a 80% or even a 90% achievement is high.

It is important to understand the nuanced differences between more efficient societies and places like India. Again, there are many places like India. So it is not “out of this world” to be able to adjust and operate. Success needs to be redefined in the Indian context !

In India, acceptability of mistakes is high, or expected to be high. You obviously get around to the notion that mistakes are possible, and most likely to happen, and must be accepted as “a way of life”. This could give a funny feeling, but this is absolutely true. Mistakes are human, and people make mistakes more often than not. An “active” acceptance and recognition of this fact will help reduce the frustrations and reset the expectations, leading to some level of “happiness”.

I further found that if the stress on “perfectionism” is somehow reduced, there is a better chance that people will relax a bit and understand the need to avoid any further mistakes of the unnecessary kind. That leads to a better performance overall, rather than the push-based perfectionist performance which often falls short of expectations.

I believe it is important to understand that perfection is not possible in any place to start with, as not all the people around you are perfectionists to start with. An understanding of how human behaviour is guided to deliver results is most important for managers to extract the best performance from colleagues and subordinates. And, that understanding is not correct if the approach is based on a “maximum” expectation in a perfect mode of delivery all the time !

It is always possible to get maximum performance by tuning the approach in a step-by-step moderate manner. And, I have seen that it produces the best results.


Vijay Srinivasan
26th Sep 2010


2 thoughts on “Perfection in India

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