Perfection Is For Primary School

Have you ever wanted to get something really right that it stopped you from even starting?

People believe that before you start a business, build a website, do a presentation, you have to know the exact steps of what's going to work. But the bad thing about that is it actually stops people from even starting in the first place and you could wait a month, a year, sometimes an entire lifetime before you actually start a project.

So today I wanted to talk about something really important and that is perfection is for primary school. What does that mean? I remember when I was being interviewed by SBS Insight, the interviewer asked me “Where do you think this perfectionism comes from, this fear of failure and wanting to get it right?” And I believe it actually starts all the way back in primary school.

In primary school you can be graded 100% for something. It's quite black-and-white. You could do a math test and receive ten out of ten and then you think “oh wow I can get a perfect score”, and then you do an English exam and you can get an A plus or 100% percent. But then the older you get in University and in life, life isn't black and white anymore you can't get a 100% score - life is a gray area.

But it's a bit too late because we've been conditioned in these early years the imprint period to believe we can get a 100% and many adults still can't get that out of their system.

So as an example in life if I was to ask you: should you go out with this person and are you going to be compatible? There's no 100% answer. You can't get that gold star. I mean what type of product should I create in my business, there's no 100% answer.

What should I charge from my services there's no one 100% answer? But because people have been conditioned from primary school to think that they are able to - it keeps them stuck. And I faced this when I started - and education as well.

I remember so many silly things or looking back in hindsight. I would try and get things perfect and think “ah what's the best font for this PowerPoint slide? Am I feeling Arial or maybe I'm a bit of a Garamond, Times New Roman..” ridiculous things trying to get it right whereas there is no perfect font - who knows.

When I started watching The Apprentice from the UK with Lord Alan Sugar, self-made billionaire (and one of my business mentors), I remember him saying “rough-and-ready”. In other words, you just have to get things rough and ready you don't have to get them perfect.

I always used to think to myself this phrase and I hope it helps you as well. 80% is perfect, so perfect is not 100%. There are too many things to do in life, too many things to do in business that if we spend all our time trying to find the perfect font or the perfect color for a slide we've perhaps won that little battle but lost the war.

So when you get something up to an 80% stage, then therefore it is already perfect.

As an example, with a business example step one: they might create a product, step two: they market the product, step three: they sell the product, and then step four you repeat the process. That might take you one year. This whole thing is one year but in reality that's not how success works. Success actually happens in circles. And in each little circle you do each of those four steps so one two three four create the product, marketer to sell it, repeat the process, create the product.

That's how something becomes “recursive” or ”iterative” in nature. It happens through trial and error.

And each of these circles that might take you one month, two months, three months, four months, but after four months your product and your business is going to be a lot further along than if you wait to get it perfect and do all the steps in a linear fashion.

That's what I discovered a long time ago, it doesn't happen in a straight line. And you don't have to get it right you just to get it started. so don't wait until things are “perfect” before you actually start something.

Whatever you're thinking of doing right now, whether it's embarking on a new venture or a business, doing what you love, starting a relationship, a healthy eating plan, writing a stand-up comedy routine, you don't have to get it right you just have to get it started.

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Cham is the CEO and Head of Marketing at Authentic Education since co-founding it in 2009. He is passionate about productivity, empowering people, marketing and is creator of Digital Marketing Made Easy.

He has worked for Anthony Robbins, Chris Howard and Dr John Demartini from "The Secret" and has featured in BRW magazine, and newspapers such as Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.