November 18, 2015

Strive to be better, not perfect

Wait. You're telling me that you went from sleeping on a couch to being a millionaire in a year? This is without winning the lottery? This is just by working hard? You got lucky, you guess?

I don't buy it. All I’m getting from this, is that you're selfish and you’re just trying to discourage people that want to succeed from even trying.

Perfectionists never fail, but they also never succeed.

They never fail because they never start. A perfectionist is always working to start something the “right way”. “Before beginning I just need ____.” is something a perfectionist would say. I know because I do it all the time.

Usually, my need is for more time or money. The truth is that I am discouraged from making an investment and not capitalizing quickly. Basically, I get discouraged because there is no instant recognition or monetary gratification. I don’t want to be seen as a failure is the real reason.

What is the best path to not being a failure?

Not doing. If you don’t do, you don't fail.

The flip-side is that if you don’t do, you also don’t have any chance at succeeding.

When someone tells you that they reached where they are in life, or in a career, because they got lucky, or because they worked really really hard – like 80 hours a week, and they still have a happy family, and a perfect life, chances are that they are lying to you. Saying that you’re successful because you love what you do is also an insufficient answer.

I think one of the formulas that leads to success is to compete against yourself – act, fail and perfect your techniques or processes with the purpose of being better than you were before. Not to be perfect. Being perfect is subjective. By someone’s definition you might already be perfect, but by someone else’s definition you might as well quit.

Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or whoever you want to highlight didn’t reach stardom by pleasing everybody, so why should you? Why should you become successful overnight? Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.

Experience Institute introduced me to the concept of “hiding the brushstrokes” (from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner's Fast Company article) during our first meeting. This has made a difference in the way I view the work of successful people.

Brushstrokes refer to how you navigate things – the challenges you’ve faced, failures and successes you've experienced. If you only highlight your success, how will you become a role model? How can you lead, if you act like you’re perfect? Hiding the brushstrokes doesn’t motivate anyone, it only generates frustration and inaction because...nobody wants to be seen as a failure.

Success is more of a destination, but the real learning comes from the experience you lived in order to achieve your goal, including the failures and the rejection you faced along the way. Embrace it and share it. You will make a difference in others, and you will encourage change.

Don't hide the brushstrokes from those of us that want to learn to be better, not perfect.

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