I know we all have encountered the term “perfectionist”, this is the term we usually associate to someone who wants everything to be error-free and basically perfect. You might have encountered someone to have this specific characteristic but the reality is we all have it deep within us.
I would say that at some point, this characteristic is great! But, the truth is, this is often counter productive and leads you nowhere. We all have some dreams and goals that are deeply hidden and buried within our desires but our “perfectionist” self hinders it. This often leads to procrastination.
We have been programmed not to fail and to be risk averse when were in school, but the reality is that you have to fail MANY times in order for you to succeed in this game called “life”. Such programming forces you with a thinking that you have to do everything as perfect “once”. We focus TOO EARLY on the QUALITY that we forgot what really matters.
I have encountered one parable which best illustrates why you have to focus on quantity of what you are doing rather than thinking that everything should be perfect. (I have seen this parable from one of the videos of Ali Abdaal, you can also check his blog about this, check this link):
“The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay. (story from Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland)“
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS?
- Focus on quantity and momentum when you are just starting
It is true that we have to create something with highest utmost quality, but can you expect something to be perfect if you are just starting? When you just started working towards your goals (e.g., writing, losing some weight, and waking up early) don’t focus too much in doing it perfectly but rather focus on doing it consistently, do it the simplest and easiest way! Build those small habits around it. Never let your perfectionism hinders you from taking actions.
- No one succeeds on their first try and you must fail at first
On the story above, Quality group focuses too much on ideas and theorizing about perfection that they failed to have the necessary skills to make the pot. If you wanted to succeed you must fail first. You will learn the most when you failed on something, always remind yourself that failure is never a destination but rather an opportunity for you to learn and grow. A simple change on your perspective towards failure, will significantly shift your trajectory towards your goal and that’s how the Quantity group made the most number of quality pots.
- Plan, execute and adjust your plan
Don’t wait for the perfect plan before you execute, make a plan and execute it right away! But always remember you have to adjust your plan. The Quality group keeps on planning and planning but only decided to execute at the end, on the other hand, the Quantity group keeps on churning clays and learning from their mistakes which allows them to have the most number of quality pots in the end.
- Everything requires some skills, and it always takes some time
Whatever you are doing right now requires some skills will it be work, writing, working out, waking up early or even reading. Everything requires a certain set of skills and no one can be a master of such skill without honing it. Remember whenever you are failing at something, it will never be about you. It will always be the lack of skills that you need first to learn before you can execute something perfectly. Focus on building your skill, all skills takes some time before you can master it. Being good at something requires time.
If you wanted to reach your goal, focus on building the momentum, focus on the quantity of your actions. Take those actions, execute it well but expect to fail, remember, every failure means an opportunity for you to grow.
Those who are best at what they are doing are the ones who failed many times, but learned so much from all those failures. Focus on Quantity, which will eventually leads to Quality.