Perfect is the Enemy of Done

Perfect.

What’s that mean anyway? For a lot of people, including me, things don’t get started because of that notion.

The right time. More money. The knowledge to accomplish the task. People to help out.

Because we think that we need these things, nothing gets started. We wait around until the time is perfect. Or there is money in the bank.

I’m here to tell you that is delusional thinking.

Let’s explore that for a bit.

The Perfect Way To Get Started

Just like with any journey, you have to start at the beginning. To me, that means simply thinking.

Using your noggin’ for more than just holding up your hat.

Grab a legal pad, a back of an envelope, or a whiteboard and start scribbling down ideas, lists, and other brainstorming notions about what you want to do.

Thinking is cheap. And if you get out in front of whatever you are trying to do, it can actually save you time and money down the road.

Perfect Example

For example, let’s say for your business you want to build a better marketing platform. Nobody knows who you are, and you need to create more impact and traction with potential customers.

You enjoy watching online videos and listening to podcasts. Yet, you’ve never considered creating one of these before because it seems too difficult.

This is where our friend “Research” walks through the door and can help. Block out some time. Start keying in some keywords with the phrase “How to” in front of them.

Read. Listen. Watch.

Before long, you have enough information to form a rudimentary plan of attack.

Perfectly Important

What’s critical to the next step is being completely ok with failure. Doing new things is awkward. Shaky. Nervous.

You are going to look dumb. Mistakes are going to be made. Count on it.

It is 100% ok.

The important part of learning is simply showing up. That’s the hard part. People don’t want to try that new thing because in their brain they don’t want people laughing at them, or thinking of them as being “less than”.

Remember the first time you baked a cake? Cooked a new recipe? Tried to train a dog? Drove a car? Kissed someone?

Trust me. Those examples in your life didn’t see perfection. But, you did them anyway.

So why are you scared to learn discharge printing? Film a video? Cold call? Try puff embroidery? Contract a big job out to another shop? Hire a key employee that will make your shop run better? Get coaching?

It’s that concrete notion of “perfect” in your head that has you screwed up.

What Haven’t You Started Yet?

So, this begs the question, “What haven’t you started yet because you needed…”?

Think about flipping that negative mindset in your head upside down.

That Costs Too Much

Oh yeah? Everything cost something. But how much money can you make? What would you learn? Who could you meet? What opportunities are out there that could completely transform your business?

Get out of your own way.

Sure the perfect way to film a video might be movie-grade equipment and a fancy cinematographer. Or you could use your cell phone camera in the meantime.

What do you need now to get started? Not perfect. To get started.

Do that.

I Don’t Have Time

Are you sure? What if you spent 30 minutes a week on something? How much further down the road would you be at the end of the year?

Have you logged how much time you waste every day on Facebook, playing Candy Crush, or mindlessly watching TV? Sure, those things are fun, but are they getting you to the finish line faster?

Time is an excuse. The reason you aren’t doing it is that you are not prioritizing what should be important over trivial things in your life.

Don’t feel bad or guilty about it.

Just do it. The next time you want to pick up your phone and check in on social media, ask yourself if there is a better way to spend your time. Set limits.

Actions Reveal Priorities.

I Don’t Know How

Remember, at one point the best expert in the world on something didn’t know anything about that subject either.

What do you need to know? Can you make a list? Could you describe what the notion of perfect looks like and work backward from there?

Can you bring in an expert to help?

Here’s a secret I want to share with you. I ask people how to do stuff constantly. Every day, usually. I read books. Watch videos. And I even have a few coaches/mentors that help guide me along the way too.

I’m not scared to admit that I’m not an expert. I don’t know everything. Anybody that tells you they are is full of it. But, my skill is that I know where to look to find the answers to fill in the gaps.

Find the resources that you can count on. Don’t forget, I’m happy to help you.

I’m Scared

“Fear is the mind-killer”.

You aren’t a robot are you? Of course not.

Fear is completely natural. New things are scary. We naturally want that sense of perfection to exist in real life. But, when we lack the components to get to that ideal state of perfection, that’s when the concrete shoes set in.

Breaking down what you want to do into tiny chunks helps. Focus on that small segment. Don’t think about how someone might or might not like your new marketing video.

Focus instead on watching what other people have published. Write down what you liked.

List some details. How long was the video? Notice the lighting. The sound. Other features like a call to action, or if the video was branded.

Mind you, this could be about anything. I’m just using video as an example.

The more information you uncover about what you fear, the less you will fear it.

The Perfect Plan

Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

This is genius level thinking from that guy.

One of the main reasons why things fail to get to the finish line is that people wait for that perfect opportunity for the plan to kick in. “Perfect” is an illusion.

What’s better is repetition.

The more you write, the better writer you’ll become.

The more you film marketing videos for your shop, the better videos you’ll produce.

The more you screen-print, the better printer you’ll be.

The more you embroider, you will be known as a better embroiderer.

But if you never start? You won’t be known for anything.

Mindset for Success

So instead of being hesitant about what to do, think about shifting your mindset towards the success that you seek.

If you want to be a better printer, ask yourself, “What would a great printer do here?”

Maybe you want to film more marketing videos. Ask yourself, “How would a good videographer film this?”

If you want to make better financial decisions, ask yourself, “Would this be a smart use of my money?”

Don’t think about your past. Think about the future, perfect state that you aspire to. “How would you do it?”, is a great way to position your actions and determine a game plan for the next steps.

Real Artists Ship

One of my favorite Steve Jobs quotes is, “Real artists ship.”

Meaning, that you have to birth the baby. Finish what you are doing and move on.

Could you do it better?

Yes. Of course. Always.

Not “shipping” because it isn’t perfect isn’t doing you any favors.

So when you don’t publish that blog article, that isn’t going to help your website SEO.

That marketing video that is still on your to-do list? It’s not attracting any new customers this week.

You still haven’t tried water-based ink, or ordered a sample of that new snow heather tri-blend to try to print on it? I guess you won’t be selling those anytime soon.

Perfect Ending Advice

So hopefully you get my point here.

You are in control of your own destiny. The excuses you tell yourself are like the volume knob on your stereo. The louder the excuses become, the more impact they are going to have on your success.

Don’t wait for perfect.

Get off your butt. Start small. Use your brain. Map things out. Ask questions. Try. Fail. Try again. Learn.

Rinse and repeat.


“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself into our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” – John Wayne

“You can’t live the perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” – John Wooden