Failure or Perfection – What are you afraid of?

Do you cringe at the mere mention of the word failure?  Do you strive for perfection?

Many people around the world have been taught from a young age that perfection is the goal and failure should be avoided.  School teaches that you must have the right answers and discourages taking risks.  If you are one of those perfection seeking people, how is that frame of reference affecting your life?

I think we all know that perfection is unattainable, but we still try at times.  While reading one of my favorite blogs, 48Days by Dan Miller, I came upon this passage:

Once the fear of imperfection is removed, experimentation, innovation and improvements can flourish.

Failure is not option… or is it?

Even though we know better, we try to tell ourselves that failure is not an option. Our mindset is so focused on success that there is no room for failure.  The result is the absence of experimentation, innovation, and improvements.  Can we exist in the world with this mindset?

As business owners, entrepreneurs, and human beings, we must fail.  Not only is it inevitable, it is vital to progress.  In fact, we need to be failing faster.  Yes, you read that right, we need to be failing faster.  We need to learn from our mistakes and failures, growing each time. If you are not failing, you are not making progress.  In this digital world where information and skills change rapidly, if you aren’t growing and making progress, you are being left behind.

Failure to make progress

In order for any learning to take place, failure must occur.  We must put ourselves and our art out in the world.  We must make ourselves vulnerable.  Sure, we may fall flat on our faces.  But who cares?  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get to work.  Make progress.  Conquer your fear of imperfection.

It you wait until the situation, product, or you skill is perfect, you will wait forever.  You are either too old or too young, too broke or too busy, too tired or too successful.  It will never be perfect, but that is OK.  Since no situation can ever be perfect, why worry.  Just make it the best you can now and improve as much and as often as you can.

As Seth Godin puts it in Linchpin, we must ship. Your first product or idea will not be perfect and may not even be that good, but you put your efforts and art in front of the world.  The world will tell you how to improve.  The next version will (hopefully) be better.  Progress is an iterative process; we do something, get feedback, and improve.  To create a great product or idea, this is the process.  No one is great from the beginning.  We all have feedback and help.

We can’t create greatness in a vacuum; we must have feedback from others and the world.  We must ship our ideas and products to the world to make progress.  We can’t be perfect, but we can start with good and head towards better on our way to greatness.

How are you getting over your fear of imperfection?

(photo by Stuart Miles)

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