Perfectionism. How it Can Kill Your Mojo.
There is the tendency when starting something new to try to perfect what you are doing. On paper this may sound like a great idea, but in the real world of applied knowledge it can be problematic. I want to explain why "perfectionism" can be one of the leading causes of failure in business and how you can cure your perfectionist mindset if this is what you are suffering from.
I am going to explain the top issues with perfectionism and hopefully help you avoid these moving forward.
Issue #1: Perfectionists are Slow to Make Mistakes
Often times I see people attempting to be perfect within the online business world, but they are their first week in. How can you even know or comprehend what perfect looks like? Perfect is your own assessment of what it might be, but unfortunately without an established subset of knowledge and experiencing a great deal of failure, your understand of what perfect is likely is going to be far off.
To obtain this knowledge, you are going to need to be met with mistakes, failure, and have to find solutions to problems. Without these, your idea of "perfect" is just that. You don't get to be the judge of perfect, or what is great. Your audience and people that come in contact with your "work" will decide upon that.
Let's look at an example.
If I pick up a basketball for the first time, how am I going to know what a "perfect shot" looks like. How am I going to determine proper shooting form? How do I know how to sink a basket, how bank shots work, the proper arc...without ever missing a bunch of shots and refining my shooting skills, my shooting technique, and practicing failing!
There is a famous quote, by one of my heroes growing up, Michael Jordan who was deemed the best basketball player in the world, and to many, the best basketball player of all time.
This puts failure and making mistakes in a lot of perspective. Although MJ was deemed the best, he still made plenty of mistakes and made them at some most critical junctures in his business, basketball. But ultimately, that is why he was able to rebound and create success.
So the first thing I want to emphasize is the fact that you should not try to be a perfectionist before you make mistakes, become a perfectionist as a result of your mistakes and the improvements that come with fixing those.
That leads me to the next issue.
Issue #2: Perfectionists Take Twice as Long to Make Something Perfect
When you don't make mistakes, how do you know what you are doing is correct, or perfect. You can't. You can spend an incredible amount of time polishing your work, only to realize what you have done isn't even close to perfect.
Think of putting a puzzle together. You have a couple ways you can go about this, one is trying to find the perfectly correct piece and then assigning it to its position within the puzzle. Another is trial and error, try anything close, try to fit the puzzle together, if it doesn't fit, then move onto another.
I would rather create 10 good articles with some mistakes, than try to create one perfect article. This is going to lead to much more success and a much more efficient advancement of your skill set because you are doing MORE, with MORE frequency making way more mistakes along the way (which lead to improvement).
Issue #3: Perfectionists are Inherently Sensitive to Criticism
It is difficult to get ahead in life if you think your work is perfect. That is your own assumption, and more often than not it is an inaccurate assumption.
Nothing is perfect. Anything and everything you do can be improved upon in business, and because of this you need to embrace the idea of imperfection in business and be OK with it. The quicker that you can come to terms with this, the more receptive you will become to constructive criticism and feedback, and subsequently the quicker you can improve upon what you are doing (and get that much closer to actual perfection).
When you over-invest time and energy into something without knowing exactly what the perfect solution looks like, you are going to be much more protective of your work. Think of it is these two situations to exemplify what I am talking about.
SITUATION 1: You spend an hour writing an article and someone comes along and tells you that your article needs a lot of work. You realize this because you only spent an hour creating it, most likely, and that there will be ways to improve it. You ask them how you should go about improving it, and they make their recommendations. You learn from it and you do so quickly.
SITUATION 2: You spend a week writing the so-called "perfect" article. You spent over a day refining and polishing the way the content was laid out. You wrote as many words as you could on the topic. Then someone comes along and tells you that they don't like your article. You get your back up. You tell them you don't want their "negative" feedback. You don't improve, you are upset and although you think your article was good, you never get to find out why the person said it was horrible. Alternatively, they tell you it is horrible and you simply don't give them the time of day.
See how in situation 2, the perfectionist because of their time investment was reluctant to change anything, as a result they spent WAY too much time and were receptive to feedback (and thus didn't improve).
Embrace criticism and constructive feedback, not all of it will be completely useful, but generally speaking the greatest improvements in your business will be the result of feedback you get from your customers. This is something that we have learned over the years.
Issue #4: Perfectionists Learn a Lot Less
This is a take off of the last item. When you spend so much time trying to perfect something, you typically expose yourself to a lot less failure and you don't have as much time to learn new things (as you are too busy trying to be perfect).
Even within the period of a month, someone producing MORE that isn't quite as perfect, will have attained much more knowledge as a result of their efficiency to produce, fail, get feedback, and learn from all of their efforts. Also, if you take a day to write an article, and the perfectionist spends two trying to write the perfect article, you would have an entire DAY to educate yourself in any way you like.
More time equates to more opportunity to educate oneself.
Issue #5: Perfectionists Are Difficult to Work With/Help
I have worked with a lot of people over the past 13 years online, personally 100,000's, probably in contact with close to a million people personally now. I have had pretty much every imaginable conversation with aspiring entrepreneurs and I have seen all types.
I have worked with many perfectionists, and many people that slap their work together as quickly as they can. There is a happy medium between both of these, but surely the perfectionists have the tendency to ask too many questions before they try something, and accomplish a lot less. I see failure happen at a much higher rate with perfectionists as well.
It is unfortunate, but the reality. So if you are reading this and telling yourself that you are a "perfectionist" that is an idea that you need to get over and get out of your head. You can do GREAT work without being a perfectionist and by no means am I denouncing the idea of high quality work.
But the reality is that producing high quality work within your craft (your niche) is the result of a great deal of trial and error, a great deal of learning, a great deal of constructive criticism and resulting improvements, and your ability to be resourceful and just try stuff.
Don't be perfect. There is no such thing. Rather realize you aren't going to be perfect with your next effort, but that very effort is going to lead to a great deal of learning and take you that much closer to perfection.
I would love to hear your feedback and experiences based on the idea of perfection. I think we all battle with self-confidence issues when we are learning something and the fear of making mistakes. I hope this post helps you overcome this.
Don't be perfect, be great.