Emma and I are both (semi) reformed perfectionists. And I wanted to muse on that journey a little, as I think for many of us perfectionism is holding us back from so much wonderfulness. So much progress, so much impact, so much momentum.
How many of us have a life filled with things we are ‘going’ to do? I’ll write that book when I have more time. I’ll start exercising in the morning when I am less tired. I’ll get to that business idea once I get some of this other stuff off my plate. Our world is literally filled with the things we are ‘going’ to do. And the sad truth is that for many that is all they will ever be.
Shipping is everything
If you don’t want to look back at your life and see a lot of woulda, coulda, shoulda then the most important thing is awareness. My awareness grew and my perspective started shifting in this area through the wise teachings of Mr Seth Godin… one of the greatest thinkers of our time. What I learnt from Seth is that shipping is everything.
I learnt about the resistance, how our ancient, reptilian ‘lizard’ brains have a skilled and sneaky way to always keep us in the safe zone. It’s so habitual and so subconscious it’s happening to us ALL. THE. TIME. But with practice, now I can see it creeping up, tempting me to check my emails, or get a snack, or call a friend. Which means I can call it out. I can choose to push on.
Make it count
I realised that I would usually work away at a bit of this, and a bit of that, and always get to around 90% done but be so slow to officially pass it on, or publish it, or whatever that last step was to actually make all the work actually matter. Now I have embraced the fact that sending something into the world at my 90% is ok. That progress is perfection. That something being imperfect and existing in the world is better than perfect and never seeing the light of day. The momentum gained from that insight, and habit change, is enormous.
“Make every detail perfect, and limit the number of details to perfect.” ― Jack Dorsey
Strength or weakness?
We love this quote by Jack Dorsey, the idea that perfection is ok, just be really clear (and limited) about what needs to be perfect. I think that is the difference between perfectionism being a strength and a weakness. If you are really clear about the aspects of your business that are unique and meaningful and you perfect those, to maximum impact, that could be a huge contributor to your success. If you get bogged down in making everything perfect, and it’s holding you back from really taking flight, then it’s a weakness.
So let’s not throw perfection aside. But let’s have absolute clarity about where it matters, and where it doesn’t. That might just be one hell of a superpower.