Perfectionism on the surface might seem like a good thing, but when you examine it closely, you will realize that it is a thief of creativity, productivity, and success.
While we probably should strive to do the best we can, we must realize that perfection is not attainable by most humans.
And, as entrepreneurs, we are often doing things for the first time, which pretty much guarantees that we have no shot at perfection.
Maybe the virtuoso who has practiced for 10,000 hours can get close to a perfect performance, but the rest of us will just have to settle for trying our best.
The Perfect Defense
In his blog post “Abandoning perfection,” Seth Godin summarizes all the trouble perfectionism can cause in your professional and creative life. Godin writes, “Perfect is the ideal defense mechanism, the work of Pressfield’s Resistance, the lizard brain giving you an out. Perfect lets you stall, ask more questions, do more reviews, dumb it down, safe it up and generally avoid doing anything that might fail (or anything important).”
We all know someone (maybe that someone is you) who has been sitting on new website text, a speaker bio, service launch, or whatever waiting for divine inspiration and the perfect words.
They may be waiting for a really, really long time.
Doing videos was where I got stuck for a long time. Few people love how they sound or look on video, at least initially. I was no exception. However, I learned to look at my videos with kindness, and I smile at myself trying so hard when I watch them. Each one could be better. My hair was kind of messy. I said too many filler words. There’s always something…
But while each video has something I could say or do differently, “good enough” is my new mantra, so I hit publish and share them on social media anyway.
The Best Description
In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about fear and perfectionism as blocks to the creative process. Gilbert writes, “I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.’”
Ouch! Nailed it.
But I do love this image of perfectionism in high-heeled shoes, and it seems to take some of its power away.
The Easy Cure
There’s a bit of a “hold your nose and jump” aspect to this, but the way to get past perfectionism can be to simply hit send or publish. Seth Godin always talks about shipping, meaning getting your work out there.
As Sheryl Sandberg said in her book Lean In, “Done is better than perfect.”