Perfectionism (has nothing to do with perfect).

Because perfect is impossible and perfectionism is about hiding.

The thing about perfect is that there’s always more one zero, one more minor defect, one more thing to look out for.

The 2019 Lexus SC is one of the highest-quality cars ever measured. And yet, if examined with an electron microscope, every single part has some sort of defect. Every part could be improved in some way.

No one wants junk. Don’t design it, don’t ship it. But there’s a huge gap between junk and perfect, and if you insist on perfect, you’ll never ship.

With our understandable aversion to junk combined with the “get an A” mindset of organized school, we’ve created a great place to hide. We announce that we’re seeking perfect, knowing that it’s unattainable, and now we can relax into the limbo of not shipping.

The perfectionist is afraid. Afraid of letting go, and worse, afraid of hearing back about the work. The market rarely speaks up when you explain that you’re waiting for perfect, but it’s eager to chime in once you ship.

And so we don’t.

The way forward is not to seek out a path with no fear. Instead, the way forward is to announce the fear, name the fear and dance with the fear.

“I’m not shipping this because I don’t want people to point out my mistakes,” is a fine place to start.

Followed by, “But if I don’t ship this, I won’t learn anything, and worse, I won’t be able to offer people some of the benefits of what I made.”

Every hit record, every computer program, every food in the supermarket — there’s no perfect to be found. Lucky for us, the people who created them cared enough to ship us something useful.

One more thing: It helps to define what good enough is before you begin. Because once you have a spec, you can ship your work with pride.

[This is part of a series of posts about The Practice and our opportunity to do work that makes a difference. When have you cared enough to show up and learn something? For more about The Creative’s Workshop and other Akimbo communities, visit akimbo.com — now an independent B corp.]

Use the comments to post (an imperfect) comment about a time you’re glad you shipped even though it wasn’t perfect.

Founder of altMBA and Akimbo. Daily blogger, teacher, speaker, 20 bestsellers as well...

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