I dedicate this blog post to all of my friends and colleagues who suffer from the perfection trap, and to those who struggle to be a “completer finisher.” The idea that “done is better than perfect” can be attributed to several people, including Sheryl Sandberg, but I heard it first, and most often, from my business coach, Mark LeBlanc. This simple phrase has become a mantra for me, especially when facing delays, obstacles, procrastination, or the urge to redo something because it’s not perfect enough.
This year I pushed through the invisible stopping power of perfection to accomplish several major deliverables, including the release of my third book, Defining You, and a new sizzle reel to promote my keynote speaking services. And I’m so glad that I had the courage and gumption to do so. As a result, I now have two more tools to build my business, serve my clients, and grow my brand.
The Perfection Trap
I’ve become more and more aware of how the perfection trap affects me. I am amazed how often I use the word “perfect” in my daily conversations. I find myself saying things like, “Sounds perfect.” “Perfect – I’ll call you back later today.” “Everything is in perfect order.” “That will make a perfect gift for…” or “I’m looking for the perfect gift for______.” I laughed out loud when I realized that I included the word “perfect” in the name of one of my first programs – Perfect Your Pitch – only I used it as a verb, not an adjective.
These language patterns reflect my unconscious attachment to the ideals of perfection. I almost find myself gagging when I hear the phrase “good enough” or “ordinary.”
Here’s one more example. As I was working on the video editing project with the experienced director of videography, Mr. Andy Hill from the UK, I was shocked to realize that some of the footage that I was wanting to use was from a keynote speech presented in 2015. It had taken me three whole years to leverage the video footage from this keynote speech. The irony of it all is that the title of my keynote was Creating a Life of Significance. In this speech, which I delivered in front of 250 business and professional women attending the WOW Forum in Torrington CT, I even addressed the issue of the perfect trap. I referenced it as one of the things that prevents people from doing more significant things. What did my own perfection trap cost me? That’s three years of opportunity left dormant. Three years of not leveraging that important video footage. That’s a high price to pay for perfection.
Is it time to call the therapist or is there another way out of this mess?
What is the antidote to the perfection trap? I believe it is action. Not big sweeping action, but small baby steps forward. My business coach Mark LeBlanc refers to this as second gear – consistent movement at a low speed without stopping. Second gear doesn’t sound very sexy or exciting, but it gets the job done. I can only imagine if I had taken that approach on some of my big projects. They might have gotten done a lot sooner!
And why is that important? Because action builds momentum, and momentum is key to your success. Check out the quote slide below – another Mark LeBlanc-ism. It’s a mouthful and I had to ask him to repeat it 3 times before I could write it all down. But I love this idea about the power of momentum and the connection to our success and our personal best. After all, that is all we can give at any given time.
A few key takeaway from this blog post:
- Perfection is an unrealistic benchmark.
- Don’t hold out for perfection when you can start now by taking baby steps forward.
- Don’t postpone your dreams by becoming distracted by bright shiny new objects. You know what needs to get done.
- Done is better than perfect. This doesn’t mean low standards, this means moving yourself forward towards achieving your dreams and goals.
So what needs to get done? Get it done. You’ll feel great!