Perfection is the Enemy of Execution

Apr 16, 2019

I remember when I was a kid, coming home with a test one day and I was so proud because I got 98% and my dad said to me, "Where's the other two percent? What didn't you know?” Instantly I decided that anything less than 100% just wasn’t good enough. I decided that if I wasn’t going to do something perfectly, it wasn’t worth doing at all. 

Have you ever fell in that trap?

In my business, I wouldn’t try anything knew unless I thought I could do it perfectly the first time. I did become perfect at something though...

I became a perfect procrastinator.

I had so many plans, so many dreams…I knew exactly what I wanted to do… but everything I put together wasn’t perfect, I felt it wasn’t worth doing at all.

I would agonize over anything new until either I knew I would do it perfectly or until the opportunity passed me by. I missed out on a lot of opportunities. 

I knew that if I wanted to reach my target audience, I had to make videos. This is going to be easy! I’ve had all the content ready for a while, and I think I had the courage to do it so I turned the camera on and started! 

Has this ever happened to you? You start the video and end up making a little slip and starting over? Over and over….and over? It wasn’t perfect so that video was never finished.

Days of procrastination ran into months and eventually I became desperate to change, I tried everything…forcing myself to work, staring at my computer screen…revising things over and over…buying 10 pairs of shoes. None of it worked…although the shoes made me feel good.

Like anyone stuck without a solution, I had to hire a coach. Someone from the outside to look in. It was short time before he realized my problem. It was that 2%...

He said one thing that changed my life “Teri, you’ve always been good enough. What will change your life is starting now even if it’s not perfect. Perfection is the enemy of execution.”

He was right. I realized that I would never get that 2% if I didn’t start now. I recorded another video. The first one was absolutely terrifying, and it wasn't very good and then the next one got a little better and then it got a little better and then I found myself doing a 100 day video challenge where I did a video a day for 100 days. Every time I did one I got a little bit better, a little more comfortable, a little more natural. Every time I did one, I would learn how to make the next one better. Getting it done was the catalyst that prompted growth for me. I let go of that 2% and realized I was good enough and after 100 days I was making money, I had added confidence because I was getting feedback for the things I wasn’t doing right and started to do things well.

All of this just because I took action. 

A scary thought entered my mind and I suddenly realized that if I didn’t start at that time, 100 days ago, I would have been in the same position, no progress.  

I realized that perfect is not an option. It doesn’t exist. Maybe you are never going to be perfect. You can, however, do the best you can at the moment. Perfection is the enemy of execution. 

Perfectionism stops people from taking action. That's what it did with me. As long as I felt like nothing I did was good enough, that anything less than 100% wasn’t enough, I was stuck! 

Have you ever felt stuck in life? I recently worked with a client who was stuck in both business and in life. We discovered under everything his problem was his intense fear of failure. He believed that in order to avoid failure, he felt he needed to be perfect. This paralyzed him and prevented him from being successful. After coaching, he made the commitment to just START even though he wasn’t 100% ready. It was life changing for him. The simple act of launching the project not only drove him to complete it, it motivated him in all other aspects of life. It was amazing, like a stone pushed over the lip of the hill he gathered momentum and finally got on with his life and is rolling towards big things. Perfection is the enemy of execution.

As a recovering perfectionist, I have learnt this; the website that is online will outperform one that is not done because you're waiting for it to be perfect. The book that is written is going to outsell the book that is not written because you're waiting for it to be perfect. Done, is always better than not done. 

Maybe there's something you've been putting off because you've been waiting to be perfect at it, I want you to do that thing. I realized only good things can happen with progress. I realized that the 2% never mattered after all and I realized buying 10 pairs of shoes can be sometimes be just want you need.




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