“Done is better than perfect.”
I won't lie. I cringed the first time I heard one of my role models say this. “Done is better than perfect.” This quote has motivated me to finally take care of a task that’s been on my to-list for over a year. Who else can relate to putting a task/duty/job/idea off for an extended period of time? You neglect it, only for now, because you know it’s going to take more time than you can dedicate to it today. You know that you want to be more original and you’re just not feeling the energy and creative juices at this moment. You aren’t willing to feel the failure of the trial and error today. I’ve got several of these examples, and I bet you do, too.
Let’s talk about how “Done is better than perfect” and how I’m finally shooting up my to-do list now- after recovering from the wound of expected perfection.
The first time I heard my role model, Ashley Alderson, repeat this quote, I felt like I’d been shot with a BB gun. It definitely stung and left a little mark [on my pride]. How could she insult me like this? For the past 20-or-so years I thrived on doing things perfectly. If I knew in the back of my mind that I couldn’t do a task perfectly- I didn’t attempt it. Easy as that.
I can see you. One eyebrow raised wondering what the hell I’m talking about. [If you know my friend Ann, I have to tell you she has this look completely mastered.] I’ll give you an example of what I mean. I’ve always wanted to learn to cook a little bit fancier. Trust me; I can make a mean casserole. Tater tot, green bean, you name it- I’ve got it under control.
But, you know those fancy Hello Fresh meals that come in the pretty green box? I want to be able to whip one of those up from scratch. Imagine the excitement for my table of guests with an uptown meal such as this! I think it would be great to go to the local grocery store and casually walk around, my head high in the air, searching for the freshest Kohlrabi and Scallops to sear. But, because I know this particular goal of mine will take some time, dedicated energy, trial and error, I’ve completely neglected it. I knew my first Hello Fresh mimicked meal wouldn’t be perfect; therefore, I still haven’t done it.
Another example: this little blog I’ve started on my store’s website. With this, right here, is my first blog post, ever. This isn’t the direction I anticipated going when I thought about this blog idea, at all. For the content I mean. Originally, I had an extremely narrow focus surrounding a different saying. I’ve always highly regarded the saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”
My initial blog idea was to interview the men and women I know with mid[WESTERN] flair that have chosen to join my circle of friends /tribe/herd/posse, etc. The blog would be the perfect way to cultivate connections between customers, influencers, and anyone who may be interested in the mid [western] lifestyle.
When my blog idea came to fruition, I outlined a lengthy list of interview questions. I even recorded an introduction to my IPhone’s voice notes app. In my mind, this blog was going to be PERFECT. I even slightly-arrogantly sent this little voice intro to some of my friends and said “Hey, I’m starting this little Podcast. Take a listen.” Oofda.
I had this perfect vision in my head of how this blog was going to go. Everyone was going to love it. My herd was going to eagerly await their turn for my interview and blog post, sharing all about them. Boom! By knowing this to-do was going to take some time, dedicated energy, and trial and error put a silencer on my idea. Because of my expected perfectionism looming above my head- I’ve completely neglected my blog idea too. Until now.
Are you curious to know how I’ve gotten past one of these examples [the blog- I’m still not a master chef] and adapted the attitude to shooting up my to-do list with the “Done is better than perfect” boldness? Be prepared to hit the target.
In my office, I’ve begun to thrive/shoot using a whiteboard. On the said whiteboard, my to-do list is scrawled across it. It’s not pretty. Looking at my terrible handwriting in various colors makes me sweat. I don’t slow down and take the time to find the correct color of marker. When I have an idea come into my head, I just grab what color is nearest and scribble it out so I don’t forget about it. This sounds absurd, I know. Eyebrow raise. She’s a perfectionist but her list looks like that?
This messy whiteboard list is the simple tool to motivate me to keep doing. When I accomplish one of the jobs I can erase it and “clean up” my whiteboard. Again, I won’t lie- I’ll admit that once in a while I do erase the entire thing and re-write it, just a little bit cleaner. The lack of perfectionism on my whiteboard has enabled me to adapt my ways and realize that “Done is better than perfect.”
Have you heard the saying, “Done like dinner?” This is another one I picked up somewhere along the years, I don’t even remember where. I use it for many different scenarios. When I’m mentally exhausted after spending an entire day mulling over the store’s finances, my brain is “done like dinner.” That rough old guy with the full whiskey glass in front of him that hasn’t picked his head up off the bar in the last 20 minutes, he’s “done like dinner.” Like him, I’m done wasting my time waiting to perfect my image. It’s just never going to happen. I come with a lot of baggage and I’m ready to be as raw and honest on paper as I am when you meet me at the bar at midnight some infrequent Saturday night.
So there you have it. This blog is the baby of admitting I can do something without perfecting it + wanting to get shit crossed off my list. Going forward, I still plan to use this platform as a way to cultivate connections between customers, influencers, and anyone who may be interested in the mid [western] lifestyle. Just know it’s probably going to be a little more raw and genuine than your favorite magazine. [And be glad that I don’t type my favorite 4-letter F-word as much as I say it.]
Friends, if you take away anything from this rambling, this is what I hope you caught and collected. “Done is better than perfect.” Just do the damn thing, put some action behind your idea, learn from what you’ve done, and do it again. Don’t be afraid to take new risks because you haven’t perfected each of the steps. Quit worrying about others judging your action [think of how the old guy at the end of the bar must feel] and demonstrate that a little imperfect action is better than none done at all.
So tell me, what is one thing you are going to get DONE LIKE DINNER today?