I know a man, quite unbalanced,
refining his limerick talents.
A sensational poet,
And the whole world would know it,
But he can’t get the last line to rhyme.
via Dave’s Big Fat Limerick site
How much of our work is like this?
We strive and struggle, we create and fine-tune, we just plain work our you-know-what’s off to deliver great work … but we cannot get that last or that critical part just right.
At that point, we think we only have two options:
1) Keep chugging away, spending more time, more money, more effort in an attempt to “get it right”.
The theory behind this is that just more of something (see above list and add your favorite element) will produce that perfect product. Many motivational speakers have financed great vacations, fancy cars, and large retirement funds based on the notion that failure is only due to not believing hard enough or working hard enough.
This is not realistic thinking …
2) Give up and deep-six the whole kit and caboodle, because we cannot “get it right”.
In a totally different direction, but with similar logic, this theory states that if you are not able to do something really well or perfectly, you should abandon it and seek perfection elsewhere. This stance, at least, has some realism attached to it. We sometimes beat our heads against walls which we will never scale.
Sort of “all or nothing” thinking …
How about a third alternative, which most of you have already thought of …
Just do it …
I was told early in my career not to turn in “sloppy work”, which I took to heart because I secretly desire to be at the top of whatever anthill I am currently attached to. So I began to construct a professional identity as someone who would always “do it right” and produce stellar efforts.
This worked, up to a point …
That point was when I realized, with the help of several trusted others, that while what I did was superb, I was also missing opportunities because I put so much time and effort into creating perfection.
Now that I work for me, I am steadily stomping this perfectionist attitude out of me.
The reality is that almost everyone, much of the time, produces work which is not perfect … but most of it works well enough.
Free yourself from the chains of trying to do perfect work every time and you may be surprised in several ways:
1) Your less-than-perfect work may work just fine.
2) Nobody else may notice or care that your work is less-than-perfect.
3) You will notice and take opportunities that you previously missed.
Bonus) Oddly enough, I find that my work improves, even when I do not do it perfectly every time.
Making occasional mistakes, but not caring quite so much in the Heratland ….