Have you started that project yet? No? Why not?
Cue the dread and anxiety. Why haven’t I started?!
Smart, capable people still have to deal with this. Why is there such a hurdle to getting started?
The answer? We’ve convinced ourselves that nothing less than perfection is acceptable. And that scares us.
We Want to Be Perfect, But Don’t Think We Can Be
Fear holds us back.
There’s a huge difference between failing, and being a failure. We often confuse the two, which can paralyze us.
A failed attempt does not make you a failure. Everyone fails; but you are only a failure if you give up.
Even when we succeed, it sometimes feels like a failure, because it wasn’t quite perfect.
You don’t think you can be perfect? You’re right. You can’t. But you also don’t need to be perfect.
You Can Be Great Without Being Perfect
Leaders of nations throughout history have done great things, yet they were flawed.
If you’ve seen The King’s Speech, you know that King George VI struggled fiercely to produce speeches that were far from perfect.
Yet his imperfect speeches led his nation through the second World War, and helped him restore wavering faith in the British monarchy.
Do not shy from the task before you, for fear of imperfection. Instead, let greatness be your goal, with perfection as your muse.
You may just find that you feel less paralyzed, and can look a task in the eyes without flinching.
I’m Not A King — I Have A Regular Job
So maybe your job is not so regal, public, grand, or otherwise kingly. That’s okay.
The point is that for any task, great or small — perfection should be an inspiration, rather than an expected outcome.
Do your best. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
And by giving yourself permission to not be perfect, you’ll probably find yourself getting a lot closer to perfection than you would have thought possible. Funny how that works…
Do It, Even If You Have To Re-Do It
Part of the benefit of removing the fear of unfulfilled perfection is that you can make something good. And then you can make it better. And even better.
Look at Apple — when they shipped their first iPhone, it wasn’t perfect. It had lots of bugs. There were missing features. Customers complained. But more importantly, lots and lots and lots of people liked it. And waited in line to buy it.
So Apple got to make it better. They fixed bugs, they added features, and improved the hardware. More people bought it, and loved it.
We are on the iPhone 5C now, so Apple has clearly gone through this cycle multiple times. The important takeaway is that they didn’t wait for perfection; they stopped polishing and shipped instead.
So do your best work and share it with the world. Your best may not be perfect. But perfection is overrated, anyway.