Earlier this week I sent my regular Tuesday email to my contacts.
I copied and pasted it into my blog post from my word processing app as usual, scheduled the email to go and thought nothing else of it.
Then I got an email from a fellow speaker friend which I opened with a smile on my face that quickly turned into the kind of grimace you get when you get a kick in the knackers. (Ladies, I appreciate you wont know how it feels but I am sure you have seen the expression on a man’s face when it happens.)
You see the email pointed out – with love and supportive spirit – that whilst the message was good I had made a few errors in my text.
Of course my friends intention was to be helpful but I suddenly felt naked and exposed. My reaction was to sink my head into my hands and wish the world would just go away.
My email gone out to over 800 people on my mailing list, how dumb must people think I am?
At the best of times there is a lot going on in my head. If you were to step into my mind you would find yourself in a place more akin to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory than a well organised laboratory.
You see to many people I appear to be confident and self assured. People tell me that I carry myself well and make an impression when I walk into a room.
But I have a secret.
Under that well polished veneer there is a man who has been fearful each time he gets up to write on a flip chart. There is a person who has trouble spelling simple words at times and who sometimes has to read a paragraph several times before it makes complete sense to him.
The reason I speak more than I write is because I find it hard…damn hard. I don’t write well, it doesn’t come naturally to me. Sometimes my mind is speaking to me so fast that my fingers or pen cant keep up. My brain is left wired meaning I think in a less linear manner and I recently learned that I am mildly dyslexic too.
I am not perfect nor do I claim to be…none of us are really, are we?
This fear of imperfection has held me back from sharing many of my ideas, it’s one of the reasons it took me so long to write my book.
There are more ideas swirling around in my head at any time than I can count and until recently most of them stayed in there. They were locked in a vault away from critique and judgement.
Holding back my ideas, insights and thoughts meant that they never got the chance to add anything to the world. How can I inspire, spark an ideas or move people to change if I am too afraid to unlock that vault?
All the time I was allowing myself to be held back there were others lapping up the opportunities.
I asked myself “What do I do now?”
“Do I wait until I am perfect in every way or do I bite the bullet and take imperfect action, risking judgement, criticism or ridicule?”
I took the plunge, took a leaf out of Branson’s book and thought “Screw it, let’s do it”
So here I am today, warts ’n’ all.
How about you?
Maybe you’ve been in a similar place. Maybe you’ve had an idea to do something but you’ve held off sharing it until everything is perfect and by the time you were ready someone else had come along and stolen your opportunity.
Maybe you have plans to do great things but are fearful of getting it wrong or not doing it the ‘right’ way.
Perhaps you’re really afraid of what people may think if they discover that you’re not so perfect after all.
After all is said and done, I’d rather be in imperfect action than be paralysed by seeking perfection.
Will I seek to improve what I am doing? Damn right I will.
But will I stop until I attain perfection? No, because I’d rather be singing out of tune than not singing at all.
Maybe like me, sometimes you colour outside the lines, struggle to put pen to paper, miss out words or make grammatical faux pas.
Does that mean you should hold back?
Look, despite all these imperfections I have still managed to create success in my life. I say that not to impress you, but to impress upon you that you don’t need to wait to be prefect, for the perfect time or perfect execution.
You simply need to get started and refine what you do along the way.
An average idea with ok execution is worth way more than a great idea with no execution.