Last week, I visited a sports card shop to have them look at my baseball cards. My card collection is mostly baseball, football, and basketball cards from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, with the vast majority in baseball. Because I was curious to see if the collection had any real value for insurance purposes, I was hoping an expert would shed some light on if it was worth getting a complete appraisal.
What I learned was that while my collection fell into the right time period (sports cards became over supplied in the mid 1980s to the point of saturation and devaluation), they were in far less than “mint condition.” As I explained to the expert (who was probably in his late 20s), when I was collecting cards, you’d buy your packs of cards, open them up without care for how they were handled, and then regularly trade among friends as if you were the General Manager of a Major League team. Some of my fondest memories involved bringing my stack of cards to my friend’s house (or vice versa) and then wheeling and dealing to get the best deal.
One of my cherished deals was trading for a 1970 Willie Stargell card. It’s a prize possession and the inspiration of why I chose the name “Pops” as a grandfather, as that was his famed nickname. The expert advised me that collectors drive the value, and unless baseball cards – even those more than 40 years old – needed to be in mint condition to have any monetary value. He gave me the example of a Thurman Munson 1971 rookie card, which I own. In mint condition – which is literally without any blemish – the card is valued at $300. My card, which I will call delightfully imperfect, was valued somewhere closer to $4.99. Ironically he explained, he loves the vintage look. We agreed that the imperfections actually added great value nostalgically if not monetarily.
As business people and as human beings, we often strive for perfection. I often talk to people who consider it a badge of honor to be a perfectionist. I respectfully disagree. I think it’s an obstacle to success. Just like my baseball cards are perfect to me in their imperfection, we also achieve much more when we don’t allow the quest for perfection to get in the way of success.
Wanting to perform at the highest level and giving your best is laudable. Getting thrown off track because of less than perfect results will slow one’s progress, stunt their growth, and lead to disappointment and regret.
To all you self-proclaimed perfectionists reading this missive, I recommend you worry less about attaining “mint condition” and more about being like my Stargell and Munson baseball cards; and that’s achieving perfect imperfection.
Quote of the Week:
“To me, baseball has always been a reflection of life. Like life, it adjusts. It survives everything.”
~ Willie “Pops” Stargell, Baseball Hall of Famer
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