The Imperfectionist

I admit. I’m a perfectionist. Sometimes I feel like I belong to some anonymous group of people who are skillful non-producers. I’ve heard that less knowledge means more, in the sense that the less you know, the less you can get in your own way. Ultimately that’s just an excuse, and excuses are not going to help me become more productive.

Being a perfectionist basically means that you don’t get things done. I should know, I’ve been this way ever since high school, at least that’s where I first noticed it. And this “perfectionistic” characteristic creeped it’s ugly head here and there, especially in the past 10 years. Guess I didn’t get rid of all my inhibitive qualities after all those 10 day meditations I sat through.

Being a perfectionist has its roots with insecurity, and maybe some fear of not being accepted as you are. This was something I had to take a look at, regarding my own tendency to procrastinate (procrastination being a symptom). I finally realized it was because I didn’t want to put out junk, or inferior work, BECAUSE I didn’t want to be judged by that work.

The truth is, we’re going to be judged by what we do anyway, so we might as well be judged by our production rather than our lack of it. Even if what we produce is garbage, it’s better than putting out absolutely nothing.

But the great news for all of us non-productive perfectionists, is that producing something is a skill, not a characteristic. And skills can be improved. If we can just switch the whole thing around from being a non-producing perfectionist things will dramatically change for us.

The key is to be a productive imperfectionist.

Productive Imperfection

The idea is simple. You know you have great ideas, and you’ve been sitting on them for awhile. Ok, for a long while, but now you’re ready to make moves. You’ve had enough. The idea here is to just produce something. Anything. In my experience, producing ANYTHING is better than NOTHING. Every time.

You ever notice how the software industry gets this right? They produce a beta version of software first, then go through versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, etc. They keep improving their product. This works with the service industry as well. It works for any industry because it works for any individual.

The idea that we’re going to produce our very best the first time out is just flat out IRRATIONAL. And even holding onto the belief that we are to be mistake-free in our lives will cost us, in many ways. Without risk there is no growth. Can’t be. Nope.

So just start. Move. Don’t think about it. Write, produce, talk to people or whatever the action is. Take action, not re-action. Doing the same thing you’ve done before, either because of habit or fear, is no way to live. I am speaking from experience. I know what this “getting it right the first time” mentality has personally cost me. The ultimate cost being time. Not going to get lost time back. EVER.

Speed!

Do what you need to do FAST. Do it as fast as humanly possible. Don’t hesitate, it will cost you in momentum. And momentum is a crucial concept. You want momentum on your side, going in the direction you want.

So do it NOW. The decision to act means doing it right NOW, or at the very least as soon as you can implement something, anything. Waiting is perfection. Perfection is stagnation. No more waiting.

I’m assuming you’re clear on what you want to produce. If not, that’s another topic for another time. For now, introduce a little speed into your work. Get something done, mistakes and all. Just get it down, fix it later…

Fix It Later

Fixing it later, taking it from beta to market, version 1.0.1 to version 1.0.2, is how to get things done and keep your sanity. Knowing that anything can be improved, and I mean ANYTHING, will help you get over your fear of rejection (or whatever it is that’s holding you back).

So ACT, PRODUCE SOMETHING, KEEP IMPROVING IT. It’s a simple formula for all the people (like me) who get stuck on the most trivial things. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone…

Get Help

The world is smaller. People you never would have been able to mix and mingle with are an email away. People who can help you produce whatever it is you want to create.

Get help. It’s ok to ask. Your results have a higher probability of turning out better, and you will have made a new friend (hopefully). You may have to keep looking, but relationships work the same way. You may have to try some before meeting the right people that can help.

But either way, you will have to get out there, make your mistakes, and correct them as you go along if you are to become productive. Being a productive imperfectionist may seem unappealing to you, but in the end, it is the right strategy to implement. And it can be done right now.

So what are you waiting for?? Start where you are, and produce something. ANYTHING.