It was my second week on the job and I knew it was exactly where I needed to be. We were at one of our quarterly all-staff meetings and working on a timed writing assignment.
Of course, being a team of highly-skilled and deeply-invested people (read: we strive to always do a really good job) … you can imagine the levels of uneasiness rising in the room. Then it happened. The voice of our (and, at the time, my new) fearless leader:
“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” Mic drop.
People often describe me as “thoughtful.” (Heck, I describe myself as such and advocate for the practice.) One can avoid conflict, build strong rapport and produce a more connected and comprehensive result when using this trait. It is a valuable skill and can be the right response to some problems.
But often times too much thinking equals too much time wasted and too many opportunities missed. Often times, you just need to choose and move. Here’s why:
Something is better than nothing.
Without that prompt reply to follow up on a business lead, without that social media post about an upcoming event, without that email to schedule an important meeting with your Board Chair, it might not happen. That’s not the end goal, right? Right. #nuffsaid
Mistakes connect us to others as human.
I’d bet most of the time that you shoot for perfect and land on good, it’s a non-event. Nothing lights on fire, nobody is physically harmed. For the (few) times that your less-than-perfect is a bigger deal, you know what’s more important than the error? How you handle it afterwards. Some of the most powerful human connection can come from experiencing—and overcoming—something that didn’t turn out quite right. Not to mention, modeling that process to your staff can be an opportunity for valuable team-building.
You don’t know how to do it better without doing it “un-better” first.
All stories start with a rough draft. Unless you exist in a bubble, how would you know how to improve, if you didn’t get some feedback? Since you’re #changemakers, we’re pretty sure you’re interested in engaging in the world and doing good works for others. So get out there. You’ll get insights into how the next time will be your best time yet.
Getting out the old makes room for the new.
As you’re working on making that one thing perfect, do you ever feel stuck? You know you have great ideas, but they gradually peter out until all that’s washing over you is the passage of time and increasing anxiety? Yikes. (Been there!) This is when you know you’re blocking your energy, momentum, and great new ideas! Stay in the flow. There may be bumps along the way, but ultimately the movement creates progress and opportunity.
All of which is not to say that taking a pause before action is bad–it’s not. The thing is to monitor how long the pause is—and what the consequences may be.
“Can this be good enough?”
The answer is “yes” more often than not.
Not sure? Try one of these follow-up questions to get further clarity:
- If this is good enough, what do I have to gain if I move forward now?
- If this is good enough, what do I have to lose if I do nothing?
So, for all you thoughtful Tom’s and Tami’s out there: Good on ya! Your intention is valid and valuable. And… keep moving. There’s a lot of good for you to do, but we only get to experience it if you share it.