In my previous posts, I spoke about how wanting everything to be perfect can hinder your putting plans into action – it can prevent you from actually accomplishing something. When you learn as you go, you can solve problems and perfect your approach. Here, I’m offering a list of seven ways in which you can boost productivity, by being less perfect.
- Embrace Failure
Remember the wildly successful “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” Old Spice ads? The ads were created by Wieden+Kennedy, one of the most innovative and successful ad agencies in the world. On a wall of its headquarters hangs a huge white canvas displaying the philosophy that is responsible for their success: Fail Harder.
The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure. Successful entrepreneurs fail quickly and often, knowing it’s precisely what gets them closer to success. Frequent failure means you’re acting. If you keep doing so—and learn the right lessons from your failures—success is inevitable. Remember: Failure is just a resting place. It is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
As Winston Churchill said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
- Mitigate Failure by Starting Small
The way to mitigate the effects of failure is always think in terms of a minimum viable product. Start small and ship your product. Learn quickly whether or not something will work, without investing a ton of time, energy, and money into it.
- Set Deadlines—and Stick to Them
There’s no shortage of business ideas and opportunities. Pick one. Commit to it. Figure out the steps you need to take to launch the idea. Then, set deadlines for completing each step and achieving specific milestones. Your most important deadline is your launch date.
- Use Accountability Partners and Techniques
Ask people to become your accountability partners and hold you accountable to your deadlines. Use accountability software such as stickK (stickk.com) to increase your chances of following through. One effective technique is to commit to donating a sizeable amount to a cause you find morally reprehensible if you don’t meet your deadlines.
Launch your business by your deadline even and especially if it’s not perfect. You can always improve it over time, but no progress will happen until you actually ship.
“When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers,” said Colleen Barrett, the President Emerita and Corporate Secretary of Southwest Airlines.
- Learn to Adjust Quickly
If something isn’t working, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your processes and systems to discover what’s broken. It’s not enough to work hard—you must also work smart.
Ship quickly and often, but then immediately adjust to market feedback. Experiment, test, and measure your results. Fine-tune your offer and systems over time.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Quit
There’s a difference between quitting because you’re scared or because something’s difficult and quitting because you see the writing on the wall that your idea simply won’t work. Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is quit. As Seth Godin explains in his book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When to Stick):
Most of the time, we deal with obstacles by persevering. Sometimes we get discouraged and turn to inspirational writing, like stuff from Vince Lombardi: ‘Quitters never win and winners never quit.’ Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time…
Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny majority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most. Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new.
- Replace Perfectionism with Excellence
It’s a fine ideal to want to strive for the best quality in everything you produce. But a standard of perfection does more harm than good. Instead of striving for perfection, strive for excellence. Keep improving, but don’t reject something because it’s less than perfect. Done is better than perfect.
The celebrated actor Laurence Olivier said, “Striving for perfection is the greatest stopper there is. It’s your excuse to yourself for not doing anything. Instead, strive for excellence, doing your best.”
The best advice I could give anyone who craves the 5 Day Weekend but isn’t sure where to start is this: Stop waiting and start something—anything. You will never have enough knowledge or skill or confidence. There will never be a better time than right now. You will never feel ready and you will never have what you don’t understand. Audit and call yourself out.
Waiting until you feel ready, trying to do everything just perfectly, is precisely how you stay stuck and never progress. You’re ready just as you are. The time is now. Remember: Eager productivity always trumps hesitant perfectionism.
As Andrea Scher, the coach and photographer said, “Perfection is the enemy of done.”
In my next post, I’ll discuss how to strip away the excess in your life, so that you can focus – with Freedom from Stuff – Creating Simplicity.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on perfectionism. Are you willing to live with imperfections as you search for solutions? Thank you for sharing!
Secure your copy of the “5 Day Weekend” book. 5 Day Weekend: Freedom to Make Your Life and Work Rich with Purpose [Nik Halik & Garrett Gunderson]
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