It wasn’t until recently that the question of whether or not excellence was necessary for us to succeed was put in front of me. I mean, what do you mean “is it necessary”? Isn’t excellence essential? Isn’t excellence what separates the people who “kind of” want it from the people who actually do?
Excellence vs Perfection
While I do believe striving for excellence is an important factor in whether or not people succeed in life, excellence has an evil twin brother we like to call perfection. People who strive for excellence are often misled from their path and end up in a search for perfection which is often times an endless rabbit whole that keeps us from accomplishing anything.
Perfection is, at most times, an unattainable and unrealistic goal. Times change, conditions change, audiences change and with that, the definitions of perfection also change. As soon as you “reach” perfection, that moment has passed, conditions have changed, and what was once perfect is no longer so. Spending time going after something unattainable and unrealistic leads to depleted energy, depleted resources and most importantly, a loss of time.
As much as we might try to deny it, living in a digital world where ideas are shared instantly with billions of people all around the world, slow and steady tends not to win the race. The one who actually wins the race is usually the one who can get the idea out first, implement it before anyone else and establish themselves as an authority on the subject.
Another advantage that doing things fast has over waiting for perfection is that the faster you start, the faster you make mistakes; the faster you make mistakes, the faster you can correct them and the faster you correct them, the less time it’ll take you to become good at what you’re trying to do.
With fast implementation, you also have the advantage of having client/costumer/audience feedback. People using your product/services will give you the best and most honest insights into what you need to work on and fix and you can’t get that if your project is still in the drawing board waiting to be perfect. You also gain a head start in brand recognition and your public gets to see you grow and feel like they’re part of your brand which, depending on the kind of business you want to run might be a worthwhile advantage to have.
Or as I like to call it, the old “planning till infinity” syndrome. Striving for perfection often times leads to infinite planning, redesigning, endless tweaking to get things “juuuuust right” and this is how many great ideas die in the drawing board.
I have a very personal experience with this where I ended up feeling huge resentment towards someone I don’t know personally who took an idea I had been “developing” for a couple of years (read: planning, scribbling in my notebooks, etc.) and went ahead and implemented it, gained traction and is now blowing up like you wouldn’t believe.
Like I said before, I don’t know the person personally and they don’t know me. We just happened to have the same idea, they made it happen and I was waiting for it to be perfect. See where I’m getting at?
Thankfully, with a lot of self reflection I got over my resentment (which is a topic we’ll expand on in the future) and learned a valuable lesson about the importance of getting things done.
Fear of Failure
Delaying things in the name of perfection can sometimes also be a marker of fear. More specifically, fear of failure. After all, if you don’t put anything out there, you can’t fail right? But the truth of the matter is, you also lose all chances of succeeding and that, to me, is worse than actually failing.
The Psychology of Finishing
Whoever said that successful people were the ones who had the motivation to get off of their chairs and get things started had no idea what they were talking about. The person who said that success was about getting things done was right on the money.
This next paragraph might seem a bit unusual for some of you but ‘done’ and ‘finished’ are synonymous. That’s right, getting something done means getting it finished. It’s an action that has been completed. It’s an action that has reached it’s deadline. They are not active verbs, they are not in the continuous tense, these two words imply completion and this is very important to understand.
They also don’t have any connotation of perfection, of good vs bad, of right vs wrong or any other kind of judgement we might be tempted to assign to them and when trying to create a business, develop a brand, or simply trying to be a more productive person, the ability to finish what you start and to let go of the idea once it’s completed is a priceless skill to have.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Letting go of the idea doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to improve upon it and better it. It just means learning to do as much as you can even if you know you could possibly do more, and to never delay implementing the idea for more than absolutely necessary.
A great example that sums up all of this are the operating system updates for our phones and computers. They will never be perfect but the companies never stop releasing them. They improve as much as they can, let go of any shortcomings, implement them, get feedback and then restart the cycle and make a hell of a lot of money in the process.
Even if money isn’t your motivation, the ability to finish things is what distinguishes people who have great ideas from the people who actually become successful at what they do (even if their ideas aren’t necessarily “great” according to our personal definitions of what “great” is). The one and only thing that matters is that they got their ideas finished, perfect or not.
“A perfect idea in your head will never beat a finished product in somebody’s hand.”
– Filomena Mairosse
Action Breeds Action
Very few things feel as good as finishing something does. We feel it when we finish a paper for school, when we’re done cleaning the house and most recognizably when we “finish” during certain intimate situations if you catch my drift 😉
The act of finishing something and the pleasure you get from it releases endorphins which stimulate the pleasure sensors in the brain. This is basically to say that finishing things makes you happy and that makes a lot of sense being that people tend to be more willing to do the things that make them happy. In other words, finishing things will motivate you to finish things. Crazy right? The more things you finish, the more you’ll WANT to finish things.
In conclusion, success is a matter of habit and the habit of finishing things is a great one to have.
And that’s it for today! What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel like waiting for things to be perfect has an advantage over just getting things out there? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave them below!