Letting go of perfection

Is your commitment to perfection keeping you from making progress?

Do any of these sound like something you might do?

You got every penny right on a bid – but it meant the proposal was late, and you lost the opportunity to be awarded the job..

You’ve been working on that client request for referral letter for months, but haven’t sent it out because it’s just not “perfect.”

You were waiting for the perfect time to make that marketing call – but never found one.

Perfection can be debilitating.

Author and thought leader Seth Godin writes:  “It’s possible you work in an industry built on perfect. That you’re a scrub nurse in the OR, or an air traffic controller or even in charge of compliance at a nuclear power plant.

The rest of us, though, are rewarded for breaking things. Our job, the reason we have time to read blogs at work or go to conferences or write memos is that our organization believes that just maybe, we’ll find and share a new idea, or maybe (continuing a run on sentence) we’ll invent something important, find a resource or connect with a key customer in a way that matters.

So, if that’s your job, why are you so focused on perfect?

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).

You’re not in the perfect business. Stop pretending that’s what the world wants from you.

Truly perfect is becoming friendly with your imperfections on the way to doing something remarkable.”

Seth’s point is spot on – the world does not want perfection from you. The world wants your contribution, and you can only make that if you are willing to be unconfined from this idea of being perfect before you launch.  Some – most! –of the greatest leaders we know have failed many times before they have succeeded. They didn’t allow a need to be perfect stop them from moving forward with an idea.

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, University of Houston professor and top TED speaker Brene Brown says this about perfectionism:  Perfectionism is not about achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame.

Research, unfortunately, shows that perfectionism hampers success and often leads to depression, anxiety, addiction and missed opportunities, because of fears of putting anything out in the world that could be imperfect or disappoint others.”

Here is my invitation to you – let yourself be imperfect today.  You may be surprised to find just how much progress you make!

Make it an extraordinary day!