Half the time I have to mutter “Perfection is the enemy of progress” to myself as much as I remind others that things can never be perfect and it is way, way is better to launch something early than too late.
Generally, we all get caught in wanting to do our absolute best – whether it be a report for a client, a design for a website, or even just a simple bit of email advice. That’s no bad thing, but when we allow that best to only be absolute we delay delivery, or add additional layers of unneeded stress.
There are many mantras that people find useful like “it’s better to launch too early than too late”, or “if you’re not embarrassed on launch, you’ve launched too late”, or even “there’s no point in polishing the underside of the table”. These are always useful sayings to mumble to yourself when you’re in the throes of wrapping something up. Keep saying it often enough and you might even persuade yourself to do it one day.
Even writing this post, I’ve probably briefed it and written half of it three or four times in my head before committing finger to keyboard, and still it feels too early to hit the Publish button.
So. Perfectionism comes at a cost – sometimes a simple one like a disgruntled boss or client if a report is late, or personal if it causes stress or overtime which leeches into family time, and sometimes a direct cost like someone else getting to market first and winning those sales. Those costs are real, and pretty much outweigh any perceived advantage being perfect might give you.
Of course, I know all this, and I say it to team members often, but still I find it difficult not to give something one final little polish…. :-)
What do you do to stop perfectionism in its tracks and keep forward progress?