The Fallacy of Perfectionism

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The base of perfectionism is fear.

Fear of not good enough.
Fear of failing.
Fear of rejection.


That’s the real reason you fail to ship.

I see it time and time again, perfectionism as an excuse not to ship the draft, not to ship the final, not to ship the proposal, not to send the letter, not to ship the product…

Harsh? Perhaps, but my job isn’t to tell you what you want to hear. My job is tell you what you need to hear. And here’s what you need to hear: the majority of the details that you worry about are completely irrelevant.

Even the self-proclaimed perfectionist isn’t perfect, not by a long shot. If you tell me you are a perfectionist I can show you 10 ways you’ve failed to be perfect and here’s the thing… it probably didn’t matter, the sky didn’t fall down.

So let’s make a deal, let’s agree to put the word perfectionism out of your current vocabulary list.

Let’s agree to simply zoom up a few hundred feet and look down. What do you see? A dot… is it a red dot?

The Red Dress

So my friend says, “I have no idea what I’m going to wear.”

Me: “How about that red dress, you know the one you are always talking about.”

Friend: “Oh lord, I couldn’t wear that again, I just wore that dress last month, remember?”

Me: “Ummmmm no… I mean I remember the dress but I don’t remember when you wore it.”

Friend: “Oh if I wear that again, people will know…”

Me: “Know what? That you have a red dress?

Friend: “Yeahhhh don’t you remember?”

Me: “Okay, so let me ask you this… remember last week Thursday?”

Friend: “Yeah.”

Me: “What was I wearing?”

Friend: “I have no idea… why?”

Yup. The details are only important to you.

I guarantee if you spend 12 hours picking out a font for the text in your ebook that no one will even know or remember 2 minutes after reading the ebook.

If you are failing to send out letters, proposals, requests for work – any necessary items needed to build your business, on the basis that you are a perfectionist, you aren’t going to have a business.

Clients don’t care about “pretty”. Sure they like a nice document, it should be easy to read, and it should be professional. But if you think that the attractiveness of your document will sway them to buy or to hire you… you are in denial about what matters to your client.

Design matters to you. Fonts matter to you. Flowery words matter to you.

Here’s what matters to your client:

  • Can you do the work I need done?
  • Can you do the work in the time frame I need it done?
  • Can you do the work for a price that makes sense?
  • Do I really need the work at all?

If you can answer those questions clearly and succinctly, then you’ll get the sale. If not, no amount of time spent on graphic elements and fonts and spacing is going to matter… ever.

At this point, you might be arguing with me in your head. I get that a lot.

You don’t have to agree with me at all. You can continue to spend hours on the details. You can continue to use valuable time and brain resources on the stuff that doesn’t matter. You can keep yourself in a constant state of overwhelm. You can continue to stunt the growth of your business.

That is the beauty of it all… choice.

You have the choice to work through fear and turn out 10 proposals instead of 1.

You have the choice to accept that what you want, is not nearly as important as what your client wants.

You have the choice to do the hard thing… work to suppress the fear and ship.

I choose to focus on what the client wants. It has served me well. I get the opportunity to run successful businesses and I get the opportunity to do it on my terms. I get to have a good day every single day. That is the basis of a balanced business and life.

So, the next time you are doubting whether or not anyone will remember your red dress, zoom up 500 feet and look down.

At that point, I’m thinking you look like a multi-colored dot and not a red dress.

Remember, no one remembers the details more than you do.

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Do you have a shipping block? Can’t seem to jump the crevasse from perfect to good enough? We should probably talk!

This post originally appeared at the “other” blog I have. 

Long-time business owner and entrepreneur, Yolanda brings a unique perspective to building and growing small businesses. Talk with me for 30-minutes, Free, no strings attached! Click here!
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