Taking Imperfect Action

by | Jul 17, 2011 | Business | 13 comments

Really? It’s super hard, isn’t it? Letting something go into the world, even when you think you’ve done your very best?

But what about the times when it’s simply “good enough”. And holding back longer would mean you’re not sharing with the world at all.

In conversations with other entrepreneurs this past week, this has been a common theme. And in the spirit of letting you see my blog in the middle of a transition, it seemed like the perfect time to write about …

Taking Imperfect Action

Are there other options?

Waiting until it’s Perfect

This is my usual style of work. Most people with a Type A personality will work their fingers to the bone, ‘pull an all-nighter’ to avoid the shame and embarrassment of letting people see their work with a single flaw. There can be a valuable trait. Especially if this someone is your accountant, lawyer or maybe even your Virtual Assistant. You would like all the “i’s to be dotted and the t’s crossed”. In many cases, the details really are important.

But are they important enough to miss a deadline, or a real live conversation with a client, or time with family? Will the extra bolding in the bottom line of a header be noticed by the client, or is it possible they are just as happy with a neat and tidy report that clearly points them in the direction of a simple answer. Are they looking for a simple way to move forward in their busy life?

Perfectionism: a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable ~ according to Merriam Webster dictionary

Listen to the Fear Talking

It’s been said that perfectionism is simply a method of holding oneself back from completion, and subsequently feeling a sense of accomplishment. And then being able to move onto a larger project, purpose or goal. Based on some conversations I’ve had this week with clients, friends and colleagues I can see how this could easily be the case.

Seth Godin refers to this as the “lizard brain”. It is keeping us safe from physical harm, of which there really isn’t any. He encourages us to listen strongly to the fear, and move towards it, instead of against it. Now that’s a concept, isn’t it?

What if the Fear is right?

Is it possible that I didn’t want to release that last e-report, not because it wasn’t perfect or right, but because I’m fearful of the rejection, or maybe even the lack of interest? That’s a good one, isn’t it? What if I release something into the world and NO ONE cares at all. Not even a pin drops. That could probably affect my ego. And maybe in some ways it’s easier for the ego if I don’t complete at all. Simpler to say, “Well, I didn’t release it because it wasn’t ready yet.” Than to find out that no one cares at all that you finished the project.

I’m not saying that’s the case. I’m guessing a lot of people care. And maybe there is just ONE person that really needs to hear what you’ve written, see what you created or hear your voice today. Maybe that one person will find their own voice after hearing, seeing, reading what you created. And if that’s the case, then could you find the courage inside to finish, even before it’s perfect?

Some days I can, and other days it feels absolutely impossible. The fear wins. It tricks me into thinking things are more complicated than they really are. It encourages me to believe the only way to get my report finished, or the blog post ready or the design of a project loaded up to the server, is to see it looking exactly as I imagined it in my mind. And nothing else will do.

And on those days I often just close up shop. I shut everything down and come back to it later. Sometimes I never come back to it at all.

A lot of those things are collecting virtual dust in the closets of my computer hard drive. They are filling up space in the shelving unit in my office and inside the drawers of my desks. Half-finished projects, waiting for a day when they can be perfected.

There’s my little confession. I have ‘closets’ full of half-finished projects. It’s true. But at least for today I’ll take this one step. I’ll approach 1 more person to share my dream and vision. I’ll write a blog post, connect with someone on twitter, and make a human connect.

Absolutely Imperfect! Me

Do it anyway

Or you could simple get it out there. Let people see what you’ve created. Listen to what you sang, read your words, taste your recipe.

Let the world you’re connecting with hear your song & give feedback. You will be surprised at the response. Sometimes there will be none for a while, and that’s okay too. The more you create and share the easier it will flow, and it’s scientifically proven you’ll have more energy than when you’re feeling stuck & stressed about your imperfect project.

How about you? Do you procrastinate? Have you taken a courageous act, even when part of you really wanted to hold back until “it was perfect”? Share your story here ~ your courage will help someone else. I promise.

~ Loralee

p.s. Don’t be afraid to tell me where my bloopers are here today. I’m happy to make changes on the fly. That’s part of imperfect action too. Being open to suggestion, gentle criticism and collaborative work! A lot of people thrive in that type of environment (an extra source of good energy).

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13 Comments

  1. huyenthoi

    It fascinates me how perfectionism comes out in all different ways, but it’s true isn’t it, it’s just a fear of not being loved just for who we are…

  2. Alara Castell

    I use to procrastinate big time because of the fear, but the beginning of this year I said things were going to be different and they have.

    It’s my time! Now I take action. I can spit out all different big bananas, programs, etc. I just keep taking action. LOL!

    Now it’s all a game and I have fun with the process of growing my business. Before I used to really be in my head and that got me nowhere. When I started living from my heart then that is when things just flowed.

    I got guided and moved and it was awesome.

    This was a really great post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and so glad that you wrote your blog and let go of the perfection because it’s awesome and people do want to hear you.

    People need you.

    xoxo
    Alara K. Castell

    Your Sassy Spiritual Guide, guiding coaches to build their business from their heart instead of from their head so they are having fun and making money doing what they love.

  3. Laurie Rosenfeld

    Loralee, what a timely topic and congrats on getting this blog out while your site is in transition (it looks great by the way). Funny that you should ask about a courageous act. Mine was last week! I finally published my first official blog post after months of delay and painful procrastination. I was inspired by our friend Seth Godin and wrote about it here: http://www.laurierosenfeld.com/archives/853

    I loved your story and this reminder: “maybe there is just ONE person that really needs to hear what you’ve written, see what you created or hear your voice today. Maybe that one person will find their own voice after hearing, seeing, reading what you created. And if that’s the case, then could you find the courage inside to finish, even before it’s perfect?” This is SO true! I am going to keep this one in mind next time fear envelops me. Thanks!

  4. Sasha Campbell

    Loralee,

    I really enjoyed your honesty in the post and sharing about your all of your half finished products. I think this is a really powerful post and opens up the discussion of how we are dealing with fear and holding ourselves bag. I tend to be a perfectionist, however I am going to look at this in a new light and see why I am? Thanks for sharing.

  5. Megan Potter

    Loralee – Loved it! I am, personally, NOT a perfectionist (though I do frequently let fear of rejection tc.. hold me back and having something not be “right” is a convenient excuse then), but it made me think of something a client told me. She said that she’d never really tried her hardest at anything; that way if it wasn’t perfect she could shrug it off and say it wasn’t HER that failed, because she hadn’t really tried. It fascinates me how perfectionism comes out in all different ways, but it’s true isn’t it, it’s just a fear of not being loved just for who we are…

    Well, I love this blog post, just as it is – even if it isn’t perfect! Go you!!

    Megan

  6. Lea Lopriore

    Loralee!

    This post is perfect timing. I see myself doing this even now!

    I get so stressed that my website has to be perfect before I even
    write a blog post..that everything has to function and look pristine.

    I always forget that I’m not going to figure it all out today. That
    little problems are going to come up the more I do things anyways.

    The important part is to take ACTION!! That is how you see what works
    and what doesn’t. That is how you move forward. And that is how you get
    results.

    I think perfection is just a barrier I use. Thanks for reminding me!

  7. Karin McDermott - Soultree

    “But are they important enough to miss a deadline…” Holy right-on-the-money Batwoman! I have a HUGE deadline coming up and the content has simply got to be more important than a dotted i or crossed t. Thanks for the reminder Loralee! So many great nuggets of honest advice. Big smile.

    I will simply tell my perfectionist side to go take a nap, inhale a deep breath, and get back to the honest business of doing the work. The “check-in” will be a big help to my editing process. Great reminder.

    Time to go with the flow… Thanks for your extra source of good energy!

  8. Jenny Shih

    Perfectionism is my middle name!

    Last week I finished everything to release a new product this week and not 24 hours after I was done, I had a thought, “Make these changes and it will be sooo much better.” I had to have a sit down with myself. Was I letting my perfectionist take over, or was this a genuine improvement? I ended up making the changes because it felt right, but I’m glad I did that check-in first.

    I love how you lead us by example with your PS at the bottom… open, honest, authentic, and willing to go with the flow.

    Thanks for sharing, Loralee!

  9. Kathleen

    Loralee! Thank you so MUCH for this post on fear. It IS in the ethers! A message so LOUD and CLEAR that everyone is talking about it! YAY! for you know what? this means, we have reached a new level of consciousness as humans. Fear has held us all back FAR FAR Too long! I can’t believe it! I could WEEP at the loss of time due to entrenched fears which were so rad, they even showed up as health issues.

    So I want to thank you for being another fearless warrior! and posting your story, because you are fortifying my capacity to act in the face of fear! to let go of the idea of perfection for my website… and LET FLY! OH MY WOMAN!! this is soooooooooo powerful… the world is going to be changed by it!

    Thank you!!

  10. Karen Christensen

    My-oh-My does this ever “hit home.” As a recovered Perfectionist myself, I can’t agree more with what you wrote. For me, if you look up the word “perfectionist” in the dictionary — what you would actually see is, “Karen is Procrastinating, Karen is feeling Paralyis, Karen is Playing Small.” To that I now say, “Hell NO!”

    Now when that aweful perfectionist bug rears her ugly head, I literally talk to her outloud and say,

    “Thank You for your input. But all I hear from you are rational lies {rationalize}. My life dream is too big to deal with you today.”

    You think I’m kidding but I’m dead serious. And, usually, I can make myself laugh if nothing else. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome post!

  11. Emelie Rota

    Ah Loralee – so much of this SINGS to me, but most especially this, “…maybe there is just ONE person that really needs to hear what you’ve written, see what you created or hear your voice today… if that’s the case, then could you find the courage inside to finish, even before it’s perfect?”

    It is so easy to get wrapped up in trying to be everything to everyone, which not only sets us up for analysis paralysis, but also for failure.

    It’s much more effective to envision ONE person to whom we can write, direct our creative energy, or on whom we can focus. One person at a time. One (imperfect) task at a time.

    Picture that one person, who will not be let down by our imperfection, but rather will unknowingly be bereft if we don’t speak or act now, whether we’re “ready” or not… Picture them and just do it already =)

  12. Tracy Matthews

    Loralee,

    thanks so much for this. seems that the topic of fear and transcending fear is always profound. I like the just do it anyway attitude. it is what makes life keep moving forward.

    xo

  13. danielle (xenstrengthyoga.com)

    loralee-

    this was the most perfect/imperfect post for me today. i raced to get my blog up this morning, giving myself just one hour to do so- which was a huge stretch for me.

    This line was interesting to me: “Seth Godin refers to this as the “lizard brain”. It is keeping us safe from physical harm, of which there really isn’t any.”

    Because for me, i am in a profession where if i wasn’t extremely confident in teaching yoga, someone actually could get injured. Luckily i haven’t lost anyone yet.. however, i have to make sure that i teach in a way that the student doesn’t feel that he/she needs to BE PERFECT in the pose in order to have correct alignment..

    keep up the great posts, i look forward to reading more from you!
    ; )

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