When it comes to success forward is better than perfect.
The Pain of Perfect
If you’ve never struggled with seeing the problems in something you’re working on then you might be an alien. For us humans seeing the flaws in our rough drafts, our rewrites, and our final drafts are just par for the course.
We often look at the things we create and wish we could do better. Sadly, our work is often never good enough. We’re always looking for ways to improve our work. We always wonder if it’s good enough. We want perfection and often see what we create as lacking. We often don’t realize how forward is better than perfect.
The problem with looking for perfection is it often blocks us. Instead of writing something we’re looking to write something perfect. Instead of making helpful videos for YouTube we worry that we will be mocked for our production quality.
The Value of Progress
On the other hand, progress makes us better. No one picks up the guitar and becomes a rock god on day one. No one writes a best selling novel without painful forward progress. JK Rowling struggled to create her first novel and Stephen King barely had enough money to make ends meet.
But both of them made forward progress. Instead of focusing on making a perfect product each day, they focused on forward momentum. R.L. Stine had a goal of writing each day. It wasn’t about writing perfectly. It was about writing. There are always rough drafts and rewrites, but forward is better than perfect.
Frozen’s original story was far from perfect, with Elsa being a villain and the plot following the tired old “true love’s kiss” narrative. Instead of working to make everything perfect, the team made forward progress, realizing that change could take place at anytime. The script was completely redone and a new iconic movie was born.
Forward Is Better Than Perfect
Ross Perot said “most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success” Voltaire said that “the best is the enemy of the good”. When perfection stops you from moving forward, it stops you from achieving success.
It’s much better to make forward progress and trust in the process even if forward progress means switching gears for a bit to gain some fresh perspective.
When we focus on perfection, we often set ourselves up for failure. Perfection is impossible to achieve. We spin our wheels and become tired out trying to attain something that can’t be attained. If instead we focus on forward progress, success often comes simply because we have gained skill and expertise.
Perfection may be enticing, but forward is better than perfect.