My Posts

The Useless Goal of Perfection

Do you want to be perfect? Go for it. In fact if your goal in life is being perfect, it should be fairly easy. Here’s the process:

  1. Don’t do anything
  2. Repeat

If you never want to get married, have kids, start a business, change careers, or take even the simplest of risks in life, perfection may be for you.

If perfection is your pursuit though, do not under any circumstances start a blog.

Blogging is for the imperfect

I’ve never worked this hard (for this little money) to be as imperfect as I am on this blog every single day. Not only that but my imperfections here are displayed for everyone to see and dissect. A whole database of searchable imperfections for all of the world.

When a wave of spelling and grammar police hit my blog, I know it. My spelling and grammar skills aren’t perfect.

When I make a factual mistake in a post, I know it too. People are there to call me out on it.

When I have dumb ideas or I don’t think all the way through on one, I know it as well. People love shooting down dumb ideas.

I wish I could sit down and thank every one of these people. Thank them for reminding me how absolutely imperfect I am as a human being. How incredible it is that I could be so fantastically imperfect in every way. And that, in spite of all of my ridiculous imperfections, I am able to make a go at it and be successful anyway.

Turning imperfections into strengths

When someone swoops in to remind me that I messed up the spelling of a word or that I made a grammatical goof, it is a reminder about how much content I pump out. I’ve written approximately 250,000 words for this blog over the course of almost four years. To put that in perspective, I’ve written and self-edited about three to four novels worth of information. If I would have waited until perfection, I would have written zero words. Even the most careful single blogger couldn’t expect that. I choose to leave those mistakes in place because it is a reminder that perfection is the enemy of quick to market, interesting content.

When I make a factual mistake, it is a reminder about how much information I consume on a daily basis. I read so many pieces of information during the day that I sometimes get my wires crossed. For most of the posts I’ve written, I’ve probably read at least ten times the amount of words I end up writing about the subject. If I was scared about throwing out a bad fact, I would have posted zero times. I don’t get facts mixed up that often but when I do, I make sure to leave the original and add the correction to show that recovery from imperfection isn’t fatal.

When I throw out an idea that everyone hates, it is a reminder about how my ideas ebb and flow between very good and pretty bad. I always have a hunch but I rarely know for sure how new ideas are going to fly on this blog. Some ideas that many people have liked have taken me by surprise. Others that people hated (sometimes quite a bit) really take me by surprise. In any case, the fear of being wrong would have prevented not only some of the dumb ideas but also some of the really great ideas. I’ve never gone back to delete or rework my writing from the past because imperfect ideas are what drives you to generate better ideas.

Life is for the imperfect

David Rendall makes the point of emphasizing side effects instead of weaknesses in your business life. Using his model, most of my readers don’t mind if I have a typo or grammar error as long as I continue producing great content. My wife doesn’t mind if I don’t vacuum as long as I split cooking with her and fold laundry. Your employer may not mind if you work from home as long as you get the job done.

Perfection isn’t an end goal. I don’t think that has ever been the intent. Being the very best and brightest depends highly on your tolerance for imperfection. It is balancing the need for perfection with speed and innovation. And if there is any balance at all, your product (no matter what it is) will be decidedly imperfect.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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