Anyone that knows me, knows that left to my own devices I’m a poster child for the perfectionist personality profile. Who knows exactly why we are the way we are. We all have our natural tendencies.
I’m finally changing. It has been an evolution but I sincerely believe that when we try to make everything perfect that we impede our progress. We cripple the opportunity to improve.
As many of you know I will soon be writing on a regular basis for a website dedicated to all things Oregon Ducks sports. It has been a crazy journey and one that could only have happened after I embraced the philosophy of “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
I didn’t aspire to be a writer on any level. As a matter of fact, all my life I was pretty lousy at it. My English assignments, starting in Jr. High, would generally come back all marked up every which way. And the truth is I didn’t really know what most of it meant. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, it just made no sense. To this day I’m not able to dissect a sentence. During my final year of college I once submitted a paper three times because of an issue with a “dangling modifier.” I didn’t understand it. I just kept rewriting the sentence and eventually it was accepted.
As late as two weeks before college graduation I didn’t have enough qualifying papers to avoid an F in my technical writing class. I worried and sweated about what might happen. My family made plans to attend graduation while I wondered if I would even qualify.
I had time for one last paper. I knew if I submitted it and it came back with a zero I would have time for one more followup attempt. You see, I had never received better than a zero on the first attempt of any paper I submitted to this particular professor. This was the case for a few of us in the class. In fact when I shared my schedule with a friend he started laughing hilariously when he saw who was teaching my Advanced Technical Writing class. This teacher, it was said, could spot dangling participles from a mile away.
Well anyway, I did learn to write sentences and paragraphs. I plan to share my method in the near future because I believe anyone can use this method to learn to do almost anything they decide to pursue.
But back on topic. I’ve been writing for a little over two years now and it was only earlier this year that I embraced the idea of accepting good over perfect. As a result I had more time to write new things. To try new ideas. And, taking a deep breath, I accepted that some of it might fail. In truth, I feared that much of it might fail. But most of it didn’t and I wished I had learned to shove my perfectionist tendencies in a closet long ago.
Regardless of what it is you pursue, more practice makes you better. Not perfect, but better. Especially if you attempt to learn from what fails. And you need to fail. If you never fail, you are not stretching yourself far enough.
Here is the take away. Whatever it is you want to do, just start now and move forward in an imperfect way. Don’t plan it to death. Don’t worry what others think. Don’t be to critical of your results. Learn from your results, good and bad, and try again.
I was scared to death when I first started posting my writing on the internet. I’m past that. Now I’m taking the next step by writing for publication. Maybe I’ll fail, maybe I won’t. In either case I know I’ll learn something.
“Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go onto the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you are not failing, you are not growing.” ~ H. Stanley Judd.
What is it you wish to pursue? What are you waiting for. Start today. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.