On Friday, I spent an hour volunteering in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom where, every morning, her teacher assigns the students three tasks to complete independently. My daughter often struggles to get through task one – but not because she lacks the smarts, knowledge, skills or talent to complete the assignment.
Rather she gets stuck on task one because she spends all her time trying to perfect her work – especially the aesthetic details. And in using so much time trying to do her best work, she sacrifices progress (ahem, just like her mama used to do).
As a driven entrepreneurial woman, I bet you can relate. Because if there’s one thing I know about women like us, it’s that our tendency toward perfectionism can prevent us from getting things done.
In the past few months, for example, I have seen clients wait to finish their web site because they couldn’t find the perfect font to use. I have heard creatives say they waited weeks to launch their podcast because they couldn’t decide on their intro music. I’ve talked with women who are waiting to record live videos for their audience because they don’t have the perfect backdrop or lighting. And I have chatted with women who admitted they aren’t going to networking meetings because they don’t have their elevator pitch 100 percent nailed down.
In the moment, these kinds of things can feel so very important. To be fair, they are because you should care about the quality, look and feel of your work. It represents you, after all.
That said, there’s a difference between doing good quality work and chasing perfection. So today I’m asking you to consider if a tendency toward perfectionism is holding you back in any area of your business. If it is, I want you to go deeper and ask yourself:
What’s the cost of continuing to put perfection on a pedestal and wait to do things in my business until they feel perfect?
The truth is the cost of perfection is almost always progress. When you wait for something to feel, look or sound perfect, you miss opportunities to share your work. You pass up the chance to grow your audience or make more money or move your business forward.
If perfection is worth that cost to you, keep chasing it. But if it’s not, consider this: done is often better than perfect.
And remember that no one is saying you can’t tweak or improve upon your work down the road. For example, you can launch your web site now and update the font when you find the right fit. You can start doing live videostreams from pretty much anywhere and hang your value on the content you provide, not the lighting, until you can afford a studio space. You can start attending networking events and talk about your business using a rough elevator pitch that you refine as you go along.
You get the idea.
Now I’d love to hear from you: where are you chasing perfection in your business at the cost of making progress?
Share your thoughts in the comments below so I can reply with some personalized advice to help you free yourself from perfectionism in the name of progress.