For several years, I had the opportunity to work with John Maxwell. If you aren’t familiar with his work, John is arguably the world’s number one leadership expert as well as a prolific author – by anyone’s standard. He’s published 80+ books and he’s still going strong in his mid-seventies. How does he do it?
Well, first, he has an excellent team – of writers, thinking partners, and business experts around him. He trains people and delegates aggressively, so that he keeps as much off his plate as possible.
But his real secret?
He has no rear view mirror. I’ve often heard him say that he has no time to look backwards because he’s got too much to do.
And I’ve seen it with my own eyes – as soon as one project is complete, he’s moving on.
He allows himself a tiny window of time (literally minutes) to assess what went well and what could have been done better.
John’s reflective, but the time he spends in reflection is purposeful and focused on improvement. When the time is up, he moves on to the next item on the agenda.
At first, this was incredibly difficult for me. I wanted to please John, so I was constantly worried about making sure that I was meeting (and hopefully exceeding) his standards (and his standards aren’t low.)
I would worry and think and write and revise and then worry, think, write, and revise some more.
By the time I sent something off for John’s review, I was exhausted. Worse, I knew that whatever I sent him still wasn’t perfect. I mean, how could it be, right?
Perfect isn’t possible. But knowing that didn’t keep me from trying.
Finally, at one point, when I was spending too much time on a project, John told me, “Audrey, we don’t have time for you to get it perfect. We have a deadline here. So finish and keep moving.”
We have a deadline. And five other things that need our attention. No choice but to make it the best it can be right now and hit send.
Send. Send. Send. Send.
John’s words might sound simple: keep moving, hit send.
But for someone like me, it felt next to impossible. I knew that if I could just move this, and tweak that, and find the right word here, and change that sentence there – that I’d finally be happy with my work.
But you know what?
I was wrong. If I kept my standards where they were, I’d never be happy. Because it would never, ever, ever be perfect.
Over time, however, I learned how to survive in John’s high stakes, high standards, high speed world.
I developed the habit of hitting send. Every time I bumped up against a deadline, I would remind myself that done was better than perfect. And I’d hit send.
That didn’t mean my quality suffered. It just meant I had to acknowledge that it was already good enough. And it was. When I got my work to 90 or 95% as good as it could be – guess what? It was still REALLY good work. I didn’t need to labor over the last five or ten percent because the return on my time and energy weren’t worth it.
Can you relate?
Do you struggle with beginning? Do you get paralyzed by doubt? Do you stall before you finish? Or get stuck everywhere in between? Do you wait for perfection because you are unwilling to “ship” imperfect products, words, or ideas?
If so, stop. Just stop.
John was right. We don’t have time for you to get it perfect.
The clock is ticking.
Stop getting between your work and the world.
When you hesitate…procrastinate…ruminate…hyperventilate…or any other “ate” you can think of, remember this.
We are simply stewards of the gifts given to us. Our gifts don’t belong to us.
So don’t hoard the best of you. Perfect isn’t coming. It’s not riding in on a white horse if you just wait a little longer. It’s not fighting your demons for you.
There is no perfect decision, speech, ad campaign, poem, parenting strategy, podcast, email sequence, or book.
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT.
Quit hiding behind your imperfections. They don’t serve you – and they sure don’t serve the world.
This is the battleground. You. Your life. Your gifts. Your impact.
IT’S TIME TO DECLARE WAR.
ARE YOU WITH ME?????
This is the third post in the Waging War on Perfect Series. (excerpts from my new book – coming February 2017!)
If you missed the first post, check it out here: Why I’m Declaring War on Perfect
or the second post here: Why YOU Need to Declare War on Perfect
Hope you enjoy! And if you’d like a free copy of my new book – coming out in a few weeks – please enter your name below and I’ll shoot a digital copy to you when we launch.
Thanks and have a fantastic day!