The myth of perfection
Episode #6 of the course Mental exercises for beginner entrepreneurs by Genevieve LeMarchal
When I look back on the past several years, I have to admit, I have some regrets.
I know it’s popular to say, “Don’t regret anything because you learned from all of it.” But I’m just gonna be straight with you, I regret some things that happened. Or in many cases, things that didn’t happen.
To clarify, I regret things I didn’t do more than the things I did do.
For example, some things I didn’t do that I regret are:
• Not buying a house when I had the chance, before the real estate market went super nuts.
• Not studying abroad while in college (I graduated early instead), which I deeply regret.
• Not publishing content, building my list, and putting myself out there when I first felt that I had things to share with the world.
You see, I kind of tried. I wrote huge amounts of content that nobody ever saw. I built several websites that barely saw the light of day. I went in circles tweaking, adjusting, refining, and researching. It wasn’t good enough yet. Nothing was good enough, ever.
In reality, I was letting perfectionism paralyze me. I was using it as an excuse to mask my fear and avoid doing what I needed to do. And a dandy excuse it was.
There is a difference between having high standards for your work and being a perfectionist.
Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, said, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
Most of us waste an enormous amount of time and miss opportunities for growth simply by allowing perfectionism to take over and keep us from getting our thing out there.
The longer we procrastinate and tell ourselves “it’s not good enough yet,” the worse it gets until NOTHING you create or build will be good enough, ever.
The mean voices that lurk in your head will get louder and louder, striking fear into your psyche as they implore you to wait, to refine more, to not do the thing.
That is no way to live.
Here are three things to keep in mind when you are struggling with the dream-killing perfectionism monster.
• Take solace in reassuring yourself that you can (and will) tweak and iterate several times after you launch. Most people will never even see your “less than perfect” version.
• Even when you feel you are light years away from being where you want to be, nobody on the outside knows what your ultimate vision is. They don’t see the shortfall you’re seeing.
• Remember that most people will never launch a thing into the world anyway. Your friends and peers are probably so impressed that you’re even doing something, they aren’t going to see the warts. They just see you doing cool stuff.
Almost all the products we love, businesses that are dominating—and art, writing, services, music, you name it—all started off as something that deeply embarrassed the creator.
Is there anything that you are avoiding doing under the guise of “it’s not ready yet?” What has been on your plate for far too long that needs to see the light of day?
When you think of launching it, what comes up for you? What are you telling yourself that may not be true or may not even matter much at all?
I wrote this post a while back that got a lot of replies and comments: Anger Shows You What Sucks, Here is How to Use it For Good.
Similar to anger, perfectionism and procrastination show you what you are fearful of. I hope you find the article helpful.
“The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries
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