Why You Need to Banish Perfection Today

by Jennifer Cross

Jennifer Cross recently completed Seth Godin’s altMBA program and had a profound realization about the role perfection has played in her life. If you are one of the thousands that struggle with the ideal of perfection, then this is for you.

You are welcome here just as you are. In fact, that’s why we are interested in you. Because you will bring the real you to your peers. We aren’t looking for perfect, famous or prestige. We are looking for people like you — who want to learn, contribute, work hard and make a ruckus. You are that person. And you are good enough.

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.”

I’ve heard that quote a thousand times and thought, “What a cop out.” Why would you knowingly choose to ship anything that is merely good? Shouldn’t our work be excellent or outstanding, awesome or fantastic? Yes, it should. But…

What I have learned is that the quote above has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with shipping our work. If we work so long and hard for something to be perfect, totally comprehensive, and impenetrable — then we aren’t shipping our best work anyway.

Good work should have holes that can be poked. How do I know if what I’m really saying is accurate or plausible if there are no questions for you to ask when you read it? If there is nothing for us to talk about? If I’m not open to feedback about it? Perfect is a barrier that prevents us from engaging others.

Good work should push to the edges. It provokes, emboldens, dares, and dreams. Anything else seems stale to me now. Boilerplate. Rote. Confined. Perfect means that you’ve probably boxed yourself in with no room left to learn something new or grow. Perfect has preconceived notions and leaves no room for discussion.

Good work is found all around us. And if we collaborate — pool our good work together to advance a cause — it becomes better exponentially. But that can only happen if I’m confident enough in my contribution to see the value that I bring. Perfect makes excuses and causes me to hide, so that I contribute nothing, and ship nothing.

So good work ships.

I have changed my mind about the role perfection will play in my life going forward. Can you? Could you strip this ideal from your work, home, parenting and relationships? I once clung to perfection like a life raft. Now I can see this was what set me adrift in the first place. It is a core value that has no place here anymore.

I will not be letting perfect be the enemy of my good — of me shipping my work — anymore. What about you?

About our guest blogger:
Jennifer shares her energy and enthusiasm with organizations who value people as their greatest asset. Leadership Consultant, Trainer and Executive Coach.


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