Last updated: August 26, 2016

Don’t Fear Not Being Perfect. Fear Being a Coward.



My friend Darren chimed in on the post that my Ukrainian girl wrote.

In that post, she wrote:

2. Be perfectionist.

Being perfect is not possible at all but you can at least try to. That will make challenge yourself all the time. Even though to do something perfectly is almost unreachable goal you should be sure that you have done everything that was possible.

Darren’s comment:

my only contention is #2. I have learnt over the years that being a perfectionist, or additionally waiting for the perfect time/opportunity/moment to do something will hold you back from what you could potentially achieve. I say this as someone who has always had the mentality of “I have to make this as good as possible or it’s not worth it”.

My issue is that depending on how your mind works, you fall into the trap of “I can do better”. Even if it is by the most marginal of degrees. There is a lot to be said for being willing to make something “good enough to work” and then putting it out there in the world instead of spending the time and effort to make it “absolutely perfect”. The thing is, your idea of what is perfect for whatever it is you might be working on, could be a complete waste of time as far as everyone else is concerned.

In software development we are taught to run with the idea of an MVP – minimal viable product. Basically stripping down your idea to the barebones and making it functional. Then throwing it out in the world and seeing how it does. If you have been a website designer or software developer, then you can understand how much of a struggle it can be to juggle the balance of a “perfect product” vs something that works well even though you feel could be better.

The Japanese have a process called Kaizen, which can be described as “the philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc.” I like that a lot more. You don’t have to be perfect, or release the perfect product, or write the perfect article. But odds are you can make it better. So get it done, get it working, don’t let the idea of “but it’s not perfect” hold you back (because this can and will, trust me on this). You can always improve it.

To illustrate Darren’s point further, let’s use web design as an example. Most, if not all of you, have probably dabbled with building a basic WordPress blog at one point or another.


Say you build the site. It’s ready to be shown to the world. But it’s just not perfect.

The question you must ask yourself now is this: how much better (Y) will this website become, and how much work (X) is this going to take?

If X is significantly bigger than why, you have a problem.

If the amount of work (X) is ten hours, and you can make your site 100% (Y) better–then guess what, I’d say that’s a winner. Depending on the long term blueprint for your website, of course.

It’s fair to say if you can make your product (in this case, a website) twice as good for ten hours, you should! This would probably hold true with most products that you bring to a market.

(As someone who is in the process of bringing some more products to market (both in this ‘sphere and others) I find this particuarly interesting. It’s simple cost/benefit analysis but runs deeper).

But say that it’s going to take 10,000 hours to double the value of your product. 

That’s 416 24-hour days of work.

Even if you worked like a madman for fifteen hours a day it would still take you nearly two years.

In this case, is your product good enough that people will benefit now as opposed to waiting two years for it? Keeping in mind that you can update the product for those two years?

Most likely, in this case, you’re much better off settling for “minimal viable product” and getting it out there. Note that this does NOT mean that you release garbage, get-rich-quick scams.


Now…admittedly, this example is a bit on the extreme end.

10 hours to double the value of a product is a great deal in almost any industry. More likely than not, it’s rarely going to come true. Likewise, in most cases it wouldn’t take 416 full work days to get that kind of improvement.

But time is money.

And if you’re wasting time, you’re losing money.

So don’t.

PS: Class is about to begin.

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