Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mantra for Perfectionists: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT

Mantra for Perfectionists: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT

What is the secret to Bill Gates' success? I wouldn't deign to answer that question - except to say I'm pretty certain that this mantra figures prominently into his business model. If you're reading this, chances are you've used a MicroSoft product at some point in your life ... and if you've used a MicroSoft product, you may well be aware that the company is famous for building stuff, shipping it, and letting the customers work out the bugs.

Am I suggesting that you do the same with your business? Not really. But I am suggesting that the search for perfectionism is a prison that will keep you from ever actually achieving your best, because it will keep you from completing things. Done IS better than perfect.

As parents - or spouses - we learn this when we relinquish control of the dish-washing, laundry, vacuuming, and other household chores. You may cringe at the sight of a pile of sloppily folded towels - but you've got exactly two choices: (1) let your perfectionistic control freak win and refold them, or (2) give thanks that someone else folded the towels and put them in the linen closet, as-is.

A quick glance at the chart illustrates how this works. The hunt for perfection is a time- and money-waster. Focus only on efficiency and the bottom line can lead to shoddy work (a little fiasco with a certain oil company comes to mind). But the middle ground between perfectionism and efficiency is where excellence lives.

Lots of business owners could outsource some of the work, but get caught up in the "no one will do it as well as I do" syndrome. But if you're unwilling to hire out the things that are nothing more than busywork because you think taking the time to train someone will take longer than it's worth, your business is almost sure to struggle. Done is better than perfect. Who cares if they didn't do it exactly the way you would do it? Is it done? Is it crossed off you to-do list? That's all that matters.

As an editor, I've been trained to look for - and find - all manner of mistakes. Good training I had, because I see them everywhere. When it comes to my own work, though, I am slowly learning to relinquish the search for flawless language and just get it out there. Done is better than perfect.

Please don't mistake this for condoning sloppiness! Stupid spelling errors and grammar mistakes that permeate your marketing materials are inexcusable. One typo that gets past the proofer on a tri-fold brochure, however, is not the end of the world.

Is there anything you've been sitting on, self-sabotaging, or holding hostage to perfectionism? It'll take practice, but you can get over the perfectionism and learn to release your ideas, writing, projects, and products into the world - as is. The first time you submit an article and later see a typo, you'll cringe. But rather than beat yourself up, take a deep breath, say out loud, "Done is better than perfect," and give thanks for all the new success this new attitude will bring your way.

This is Day 23 in the 60-Day Content Challenge. See you tomorrow for the next post!

Sign up today for Laura's next workshop, Want to Charge More? Start Writing! Or e-mail your marketing questions to Laura.

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