Which do you want to be: perfect or innovative?

Do as I say, not as I do

This is a quote I tweeted out last week with the comment
A good reminder for us damn perfectionists:

“It is easy to begin once you have accepted that what you produce may not be very good, and that’s normal.” — Megan Mcardle

But, clearly. As I sit here at 5am because I’ve been up all night trying to put together a perfect blog post for my 30 posts in 30 days challenge. Well, clearly… I’m not remembering that at all.

A bit of back story…

Einstein and Newton and Neo, Oh My

I recently took the 16 Personalities Test and came out as an INTP, aka “The Logician.” That’s the same personality type as Einstein and Newton and Pascal and… wait for it. Neo.


(there is no spoon)

Too cool!

Right up until I read the description…

“The one thing that really holds INTPs back is their restless and pervasive fear of failure. INTP personalities are so prone to reassessing their own thoughts and theories, worrying that they’ve missed some critical piece of the puzzle, that they can stagnate, lost in an intangible world where their thoughts are never truly applied.”


Okay, yes, there are several pages describing INTP on 16 personalities.

But all I could see was “pervasive fear of failure.” And all I could think was, without failure, there is no innovation. Where does that leave me?

I kept thinking about all the times I do that: reassessing my own thoughts and spending forever hunting down that critical missing piece of the puzzle before allowing myself to move forward.

This endless searching for better, more complete, perfectly bullet-proof ways of doing things… it really gets in the way of Getting Shit Done.

Just put something out there!

I tell this to all of the startups I advise. But, again, do as I say, not as I do.

We don’t have to have the perfect answer. We just have to have a reasonably good guess that we can use as a stake in the ground from which to start.

To get our name out there, to kick off our project, to get involved in the space that we’re interested in, to share our idea. Whatever it is. We can’t get anywhere if we don’t ever allow ourselves to start.

And just because we start with something, that doesn’t lock us into it. Once we start, we can evolve what we did, continue to make it better if we choose. Or we can simply enjoy the fact that we put ourselves out there, shared a bit of our gift with the world, and feel proud of that before moving onto our next thing.

From imperfection comes learning

And, here’s the thing. If we can, as Mcardle suggests, truly embrace that what we put out there may not be very good. Well, then that leaves us open to so many new ideas and gifts of insight and learning.

Gifts and knowledge that we may have been closed off to if we decided that what we’d put out there was “perfect” or “complete.”

If we share something where we’re missing a crucial piece of the puzzle, then we open ourselves to the possibility of being enlightened by others who have different viewpoints and different knowledge to share. Things they might not have had an opportunity to share with us if we hadn’t allowed our imperfect creation to go out into the world.

That’s kind of awesome, right?


I love this advice by James Altucher,

“Pretend everyone was sent to this planet to teach you.”

I try to remind myself of this regularly. It’s amazing what you’ll learn when you open yourself up.

What were YOU sent to this planet to teach? I’m ready to learn!


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