Is The Need To Be Perfect Messing Up Your Delivery?

How often have you tinkered with something—a blog post, a client deliverable, a new program—trying to get that last bit of perfection before you release it?

Uh, yeah.

Me too.

Unfortunately, there is a fine line between the time required to create difference-making content, products and services vs. meaningless delays trying to get the last few degrees of perfection before pushing your baby out into the world.

Even when you consciously know you’re delaying—rather than actually making your “thing” better—it can still be tough to pull the trigger.

We want our stuff to change lives, garner top attention and sell like gangbusters. Surely those tweaks are necessary, right?

Jonathan Stark and I have talked about this a few times on our podcast here and here where we’ve both copped to some bouts of perfectionism.

In Jonathan’s case, it drove him to write a daily email to his audience (which forced him past his inner critic that went in attack mode whenever he decided to write a weekly article).

And in mine, well let’s just say my ConsultantBrand course was about six months late in coming as I tinkered with things that ultimately didn’t matter.

But of course, it’s far easier to see this tendency in someone else than to nip it in the bud for ourselves.

So after working with clients who occasionally suffer from varying degrees of seeking perfection, I’ve come up with a few warning signs to watch out for:

You find yourself saying “this would be better if” over and over again as you approach the release. It’s one thing to ask this question in the initial stages, but quite another once you’ve got your idea in a useable, shareable form. At some point, you have to hit SEND.

You decide to forgo asking for client/buyer input on your mega releases because really, you’re the pro and you want it all in your voice and on your terms. No input means you’ve lost the opportunity to shape your idea, service or product to ensure it appeals to your target audience. Not to mention you’ll have left the possibility for early engagement (and sales) off the table.

You ask for input from everyone who will listen and then act on every item, delaying your launch unnecessarily. This is perilous territory if you need for everyone to love your baby. Your best bet is to ask a very carefully curated set of reviewers for the stage you’re in. Just a germ of an idea? Don’t go to the guy who always plays devils advocate—find the creatively wired who can see where it might go. Then once you’ve got a straw man, call in those who will pick it apart to make it better.

Instead of building out a possibly market-changing idea, you sit on it. And think about it for months—years even—and then slap yourself upside the head when someone else publishes YOUR idea. This is not uncommon, even with highly successful consulting practice owners. The more successful you are, the harder it can feel to try something new.

Hey, I get it. I’ve sat on plenty of ideas too long and avoided getting input sooner in the process.

Which is ultimately the point—none of us is perfect.

And when we stop trying to prove it, we can get on with the business of delivering transformational change to our sweet-spot.

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  • Had to set aside some time to listen to the podcasts. In my “world,” perfection less the need than good enough. As the same time, opportunities exist to improve the work product (testimony, op-ed, news release, ad, literature) as many bites of the apple occur in my space. As the same time, I enjoy varied posse I use to play off ideas and review various media when the need exists — generally with my website and my own (non-client) work. I also use those outreach opportunities as another way to stay in touch with possible sources of new work.

  • Rochelle

    Thank you Corey–sometimes “good enough” as the industry standard is a real gift, right? You have to avoid perfectionist tendencies or you wouldn’t have a business very long.

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