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Just Get On With It! (aka Progress vs Perfection)

I’ve been doing the following things instead of starting this article:

  • Filing some client notes using a coloured post-it

  • Getting a drink

  • Check my emails

  • Tidying my desk

  • Talking to my wife

  • Making sure my calendar was up-to-date

  • Checking and consolidating my to-do list

Primarily because I didn’t want to start writing with the clock ticking (I actually set a countdown timer!) without being clear about what I was going to write.

Then I realised the absurdity of not getting on with writing an article entitled “just get on with it” and I laughed out loud 😆


I have a pretty strong stickler/perfectionist in the make-up of my inner critic - the part of me that says everything must be done to a very high standard or it’s not worth doing. Or, at a deeper and more accurate level, everything must be done to a very high standard or I’m not good enough. I work hard on this - to recognise when good enough is good enough, and to remember that progress is, in most cases, much more important and effective than perfection.


In the book Art & Fear, the authors share a story about a ceramics teacher who undertakes an experiment. He divided his film photography students into 2 groups. He told the first they would be graded on the quantity of work they produced (the number of photos), and the second on the quality of a single photo. By the end of the semester, all the best photos were produced by the quantity group.


If we strive for perfection we miss all the learning that comes from progress. If we follow a fast “do-learn-do-learn” cycle and stick to it over time, remarkable things happen. Yes, within that time we may produce some crap but if we can stomach that - that is, risking feeling exposed and judged - then over time we will produce work of a quality far in excess of what we would have produced if we’d spent all that time crafting a single piece.


It’s relatively easy to see how this applies in the creative world - photography, artwork, song writing, literature - but it applies much more widely. How about dating? Or public speaking? Or being an entrepreneur?

Where does perfection over progress trip you up? And where do you see the power of progress over perfection?


And now I finish, having made some progress 😃

Jon


This article is part of 100 Days of Creation, my challenge to myself to write 100 articles in 140 days, each taking no longer than 30 minutes to write and publish.

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