Perfection is the enemy of success

Perfection is the enemy of success

Perfection doesn’t build success, it isn’t the key to success, in fact, perfection is the enemy of success. When I think about how I started out in business and wanting to help people. I felt like I had to have all the answers. I wouldn’t put anything out there until it was done perfectly, perfection was what I thought would lead to success.

I think that probably came from my corporate background, no one ever hires you because you used to struggle with something – people hire you because you say you can do something.

And actually, corporate life is built on perfection, you know blame culture all of that, but that’s a whole other story.

Perfectly Imperfect

However, when you are selling to possible customers, individuals, real people with real lives it changes because they are buying from you because of your experience and your connection to them.

They don’t need you to be perfect, they need to be able to relate to you. They need what you are selling and they don’t have time to wait while you work on your product or service until it’s perfect enough to release into the world!

When I think about the beginnings of my business, I felt like I had to have it all together. I had to have all the answers and I had to show up perfectly to deliver them.

I had to look perfect, I had to speak perfectly, my website had to look perfect. Everything had to be perfect all of the time. Because I felt like, that’s what would make people trust me if I was just like, you know, bulletproof, Stepford wife, kind of vibe. I thought I couldn’t show them my failures, in fact, I had a real fear of failure.

The truth is though not only is that counterproductive, that’s not really my nature, one of my values is sincerity. And that for me represents integrity, honesty, being who I am and being genuine. So I really struggle with the whole showing up perfect thing because it just doesn’t work for me.

I can’t be what I’m not feeling, I’m quite a heart on my sleeve kind of person. If I am being honest it’s a big part of why I left Corporate because I couldn’t just be me. I felt like I had to be this robotic version of myself who never had a bad day and certainly never be in a bad mood.

I couldn’t have moments of “actually I’m not sure about this, I need to think about it some more”. I just had to be ‘always on’, had to have the answers, always had to be, you know, ready to go, or there’d be questions over my professionalism, my ambition, my suitability, my credibility.

An expectation to always be at your optimal capacity without the space or freedom to do what you needed to in order to reach that optimal capacity.


Done Is Always Best

The truth is though this strive for perfection is actually what stops us from having success, I often think of the Voltaire quote:

“The best is the enemy of the good” – Voltaire

You see, perfection is the enemy of success. Perfection won’t help you build success; it’s often what prevents you from actually achieving it.

For me, what I noticed was that when I was just starting my business and had a relatively small email following and Facebook group, it felt like a safe place to be a bit more real and honest. I could park perfectionism at the door and be honest, be me.

So I would occasionally talk about my experiences and my struggles and my frustrations and what I found amazing was that these were the emails that got read the most, the posts that got interacted with the most.

When I talked about the struggles I was having when I was finding things hard, how overwhelmed I felt at times and how at times I felt lost. That was what resonated with people, they were the things that made people think yes that is how I feel.

Because in truth, people don’t want to connect with people who seem perfect, they want to connect with the ones whose struggles they can relate to and who they feel can truly relate to them.

You want your ideal customers to think “You get what we’re going through because you’ve been there you’ve done that” The struggles don’t have to be identical sometimes just knowing someone has had their own struggles is enough.

It’s hard to get that connection with perfection because instead of relating to it we can often feel intimidated by it, however, the connection of an understanding of hard times and struggles is a really deep connection.

Shared Struggles

When I think about a brand that I personally love as a British startup, a woman and her husband, called Bibadoo.

They actually appeared on TV just before Christmas, they had created a bib for babies and toddlers, where it has full sleeves and wraps around the high chair so there is minimal mess.

I can vouch for this as I have four of them for my little one that I keep on rotation and it just makes mealtime so much easier so much cleaner so much tidy I like you would not believe.

The reason people connect to her brand and believe and trust that she has absolutely nailed the quality of this product is because she is willing to share her story, share her struggles:

“I had twins. I had to do double mealtimes multiple times a day. So I just spent my life, preparing the food, watching it get thrown everywhere, clearing it up again, changing their outfits double the amount because I had twins. And it was awful. And I was miserable and I felt like there had to be a better solution so I went and made that solution, and now I share it with other people”.

Now, as a new mum myself. I know the pressure on parents, especially women to say, I’ve got it all together, I love being at home with the baby and everything that comes with that.

But she stood up and said, It’s tough. It is actually really tough. And I really struggled with this problem and now I want to help solve it for everyone else.

What happens is that parents of little babies and toddlers can completely connect with her story, they have lived it, are living it.

So now they have related to her struggle they are keen to say yes I do want to buy that product, she’s created a whole business out of the moment that she could have said “I can’t say I’m struggling. I can’t admit this. I have to look like I have it all together”. And she has created a hugely successful business by acknowledging and embracing the moment in which she’s struggling where life isn’t perfect. Success for her business idea came out of struggle. It came out of feeling imperfect.

Perfection didn’t lead to her success, imperfection did. This is true of so many areas of our lives. It doesn’t matter if you are always waiting until your business services or products are perfect.

Embrace The Imperfections

Or if you don’t want people to see you struggling in business or in life. With social media, we have created a false perception of perfection when what people all relate to is that life and business are hard, and are rarely perfect.

Let’s be honest if we’re already perfect, if our business is already perfect then what more do we need?

The reality is that of course we’re learning and growing, we’re humans, we should be learning and growing all the time, we should be evolving we should be changing.

We should be imperfect, we are imperfect. Winston Churchill once said that “perfection is the enemy of progress”

He was right of course, it’s not only the enemy of progress. Perfection is the enemy of success as well.

The sooner we all embrace our imperfections, the more progress we will make and the more success we will have!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, do you struggle with perfectionism? Or are you embracing your wonderfully imperfect life?

Perfection didn’t lead to her success, imperfection did. This is true of so many areas of our lives. It doesn’t matter if you are always waiting until your business services or products are perfect.

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