Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. – Voltaire
Let’s take a hypothetical walk.
You decide one day that you want to come with me to work.
Then, you decide, “Hey, what they’re doing is really cool! I want to tackle a project too!”
You’ve been with us for two weeks… and you’ve got nothing done on this project.
Or, maybe you have a lot, but you’d never show us, because God forbid we see your less than perfect work. Your thought process: “I am new here. I would never want to break any of the molds already in place.”
So, you sit at your desk. You keep to yourself and you work. And work. And work. But, alas, produce nothing, because you fear imperfection. You fear creating waves. Making a change. You fear the possibility of being told, “That sucks. Let’s try it a different way.”
After a month, you still have nothing and we kindly tell you to, uh, get the heck out. And you leave, carrying your notebook full of what are probably brilliant ideas, but you were too scared to show us.
But, none of that would ever happen here.
Well, it was a hypothetical walk. And, that’d never happen because the company I work for is awesome, but also…
Because we constantly remind each other of this quote: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”… and follow that with it’s better to produce something imperfectly than to do nothing… perfectly.
How often do you find yourself failing to act and be brave because you’re afraid of being imperfect?
My coworker recently shared an amazing TED Talk , by Reshma Saujani, founder of the nonprofit Girls Who Code, on the importance of teaching girls to be brave over being perfect. She states:
“…[S]o many women I talk to tell me that they gravitate towards careers and professions that they know they’re going to be great in, that they know they’re going to be perfect in, and it’s no wonder why. Most girls are taught to avoid risk and failure. We’re taught to smile pretty, play it safe, get all A’s.”
How many times have we stopped ourselves from taking a risk because we were afraid to fail? To be imperfect? I’ve written on perfectionism before, because I saw how detrimental perfectionism had been in my own life – I too, was brought up in a home and a culture where I felt the need to be perfect. Breaking free of that mindset was not an easy feat, and sometimes I still struggle. But taking risks? Now, that’s captivating. That’s freeing.
I want to tell you about my friend Bridgette. She’s amazing. She realized that in order to better her health and her well-being she needed to start exercising. So, you know what she did? She started running (yeah girl, you go). Every week she texts me her progress. I don’t ask her. She does it because it motivates her. And because she took the risk to buy a treadmill and pound the heck out of it, she’s come so far, and she feels great.
You can’t wait around and hope to be good at something; to better yourself. You just have to begin. Need a little inspiration? Take Seth Godin’s recent blog post:
“While waiting for perfect You’ve permitted magical to walk on by. Not to mention good enough, amazing and wonderful.
Waiting for the thing that cannot be improved (and cannot be criticized) keeps us from beginning.
Don’t let perfectionism stop you from bettering yourself. Bridgette did it. You can too. Bridgette wasn’t scared of never having run before (or, maybe she was, but she didn’t let it stop her). She just did it.
Be inspiring. Be brave. Be Bridgette.
And, see, I’m taking a risk by posting this without telling Bridgette…