The F1 driver's perfect lap. The snooker player's 147. The chef's signature dish.
Perfection is an almost unattainable goal. But what unites individuals and teams in pursuit of this goal is constant, gentle pressure.
Take a tournament chess player, who has just played a perfect game of brilliancies. With much effort, every move has been perfect and carefully calculated. Now they must do it again - against every other player in the tournament. The poker player, having just won the WSOP, after a grueling week of games, now strives to match that level of excellence for the next twelve months.
In some ways, this is the second law of thermodynamics. In some ways, this is regression to the mean. But fundamentally, in order to attain perfection, it takes constant, continuous pressure.
In Danny Meyer's Setting the Table, he tells an anecdote about a salt shaker. As the owner, he wants the salt shaker placed perfectly in the centre of the table. As guests come and as meals are served, the salt shaker will invariably move from this place in the centre. Such is entropy. The server must constantly exert pressure to attempt to maintain this unstable equilibrium - pushing the shaker back to its rightful place when displaced. And similarly, pressure must be placed on the server to ensure that this definition perfection is constantly achieved.
As pressure is released, as one reduces the effort level, entropy takes its place. As one's discipline wanes, the results return to the mean.
It is not the attainment of perfection that is important or which matters. What matters is the striving towards that platonic ideal - that goal of perfection. Without it, without that striving, one will perpetually remain in the area between greatness and mediocrity.
Your success in any field, any endeavor, relies your ability to exert constant continuous pressure in pursuit of perfection.
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