22 Nov Perfection is wasted on the …perfect.
Early on in my advertising career I had a boss who, among other things, gave me one specific piece of advice that really stuck. She said ‘There is never a perfect time to take a vacation, so just take one”.
For me, that advice applies to more than vacations. It applies to everything. There is NEVER a perfect time to do anything. Because if you wait for perfect, it’s never going to come.
In business today, where fortunes are fragile and so much seems to be at stake, we spend considerable time thinking and analyzing to ensure that we are doing the best possible thing at the best possible moment. But if we want to make anything happen, at some point we have to act. We have to pull the trigger. We have to make a move. We have to trust that we know enough and just do it. If we don’t, we might be thinking and analyzing and planning forever. And the moment of opportunity will have passed.
I spent many years sitting in meetings where the merits of various action steps were debated so furiously that no action got taken at all. The time wasn’t exactly right to do this. Or that wasn’t the perfect option. I realized in those moments that any action would have been better than no action. In fact, doing something…anything…is always better than doing nothing. Any action that moves the energy…even if it isn’t exactly forward…is a good thing. And if it doesn’t work out quite the way we wanted, it’s still good, because we get to learn from it or gain a new perspective or even get a new direction out of it.
There is a big difference between striving for perfection and waiting for it. Striving for perfection is a great goal. One we will most likely never reach, but it sure increases the possibility that what we do will get close. It’s about the process, not the outcome.
Waiting for perfect is a hedge against the possibility of making a bad decision. Or an excuse to stay safe. It’s about the outcome. Or our trying to control the outcome. Which is about as impossible as perfect.
It’s the action that’s important, really. And the only way to get anything accomplished. Because doing something changes things. And doing nothing doesn’t.