Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Proverb: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Full Translation: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect essentially means: Always put your greatest effort in – that is how you will improve. If you practice perfection at every step, perfection itself is far more attainable.

Context: My informant is an eighty year old woman from a very scientifically/factually inclined Midwestern family. This performance was done over Facetime with my informant, since she lives in Seattle. Otherwise, however, it resembled a classic storytelling situation.

Background: My informant heard this proverb from her own husband, who himself learned it from colleagues in a university setting. She loves this updated take on “practice makes perfect” because it reflects her work ethic. Though she’s well into her 80s, she is constantly seeking out new challenges for herself. She likes to be her best her, and this saying helps her do that – to be the best possible person she can be, she always practices perfection, though she may not necessarily attain it.

Analysis: This is an intriguing example of a proverb changing shape to reflect differing ethical or societal standards. This phrase is interesting since it takes a very well known American proverb – “practice makes perfect” and modifies it, changing its significance with the addition of a single word. The significance immediately changes – this is no longer saying that practice itself will lead to success, but rather putting maximum effort into ones work will ensure maximum reward. I personally think it’s a really cool way to further stress the importance of work ethic. It changes a well known proverb in a very simple, yet noticeable way, so that the phrase is still easy to remember  and catchy, and inspires even greater effort in those who hear it.