Perfection kills opportunities

Another few hours spent on polishing slides for my company’s website – Amuse.
2 hours spent on creating a concept with a humoristic tinge. 1 hour spent on browsing the right font. 1 hour spent on finding quality images for slides. 3 hours spent on figuring out these bloody settings of the Java plugin. 2 hours spent on proper timing the slides.
Fuck no. I don’t like the shape it is. It’s not funny anymore. Joke heard more than once stops being funny. Actually, I don’t know anymore if it was funny at the first place.
2 hours spent on changing the concept, 2 hours spent on timing the slides properly…

It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock’n’roll.

The backbone of Amuse business is ready since some time; the core team has been founded, the development team has been formed, business development strategy organised, forming partnership with one of the most innovative Italian business incubator is in the advanced stages. Together, with my business partners creativity and enthusiasm we can do the impossible.
We’ve been working on a few projects already without having our company website out there.
But the problem remains. The website is still not diamond polished. So I fight with the life-changing importance of 1px to the left, 2px to the right…
And what self-respecting, professional and agile-claiming business neglects such an essential issue as a company website? Maybe the one which has a perfectionist control freak as a founder.

Of course I could delegate the above task to somebody else. I should leave it to the professionals. But I want to learn everything myself. My human infirmity craves for feeling of credit ownership. I want to be present all around at my business baby steps. Besides, I need it to harmlessly flatter my vanity and keep chasing illusory feeling of having control.

Will it be worth it?
Not directly at least. Most probably you will never see/feel the amount of work most people put into creating something meaningful. Because the only thing that matters (at least to the outside environment) is the output. The tangible product of our thoughts.
Surely, these 10 000 hours spent on perfecting the skill will most probably make you an expert at it, but won’t the opportunity cost be too high?

I rarely can say about my work that “it’s finished/complete”. The determinant of it is a deadline imposed from above – after that point I have no influence so the finish line materialises by itself.

LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman once said

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

So when is good enough, and when it’s too unprofessional? I guess it’s all about transparency, building trust and showing that you are really trying. You can’t possibly say that your alpha product is awesome, when the bugs are bombarding your clients’ browsers like an Emmental cheese. But if you explain the real state of the project and kindly ask for the feedback – your clients will be very understanding and will help you to grow.

Control freak

I want to be agile with everything I do. I really do. I have to fight with the feeling that if I don’t do something myself, it won’t be perfect (Of course it won’t! Perfection is subjective). I need to resist bloody craving for Interstellar omnipresence wherever important things are happening.
I have to let go.

I need to embrace imperfection, because this it the only way to move fast and break things. And even if I don’t fall for the social trap of framing my life so it looks impeccable, I still want to have control over the perceived quality of my work, which is never good enough for me.

I love to have control over all aspects of my life. Sometimes I take it to extreme.
When I organise something social, I take it very seriously. I want all the people to have perfect time and be equally engaged. Leave no man behind. Even if I only participate in the event organised by someone else, there is always a weird part of me running in the background, making sure everything is going smoothly and everybody is having good time. I’m the first one to pour the drinks for people (especially if I’m not asked) or make everyone laugh. When I see someone alienated, I try to engage him. Some people can take it as effrontery, however I try to be respectful of one’s space.

Peer to peer power

Even if I wished, I can’t possibly deal with everything. I am damn curious and constantly willing to learn, but I can’t be great in everything. I don’t want to, anyway. I want to surround myself with talented people where you can feel creativity rush flowing from all around. I used to think that I know BETTER. I’m an Aquarius + the only child (if you believe in astrology) so letting others take control over some aspects of my life has been beyond my tolerance.
Now, I have no problem with admitting when somebody is better than me (There are not so many of them anyway, ha ha ;). I want to feel dumb. I will do my best to shut my mouth and listen. I praise collective intelligence.
I know people who are overly obsessed with having the final say on every detail of the project. In the end they lose the essence of managing and become slaves of their mistrustful frailty.

Chaotic simplicity


That’s why all this boom for being agile, lean, MVP, half-baked products.

The approach to projects should always derive from simplicity. The world is complex enough. We’ve become accustomed to over-analysing everything before we take action. 5/10/15 year profit & loss forecasts, 40+ pages long business plans, waterfall-style bs specifications.
The world is changing and we absurdly try to chase the next big thing to stay ahead. But the truth is that whatever is trending now on CrunchBase, has been thought trough and designed few months ago (if not much, much earlier). Not to mention heavy industries such as aerospace or telecoms.
You can’t cope with the pace if you don’t challenge the status quo yourself.

Striving for perfection paralyses us. The deviant behaviour of over-analysing, over correcting stuff makes us numb. So we don’t take action at all, and the world will never know that we’ve been wishy-washy working on the masterpiece for so long. Legacy not built.
We are focusing on everything which we are not, and we are trying to chase it. 

We prefer to twist and tweak never-ending tragic story of our project staying in the comfort zone, instead of putting it out there. We are afraid of humiliation. Of being called mediocre. Everything else (=not made by us) looks so complete, established and polished, so we feel small and our trying looks so ridiculous (to us).
The smart-ass paradox is, that in our minds we are damn sure of our value. The world will see our evil genius once we perfectly execute our project X. So not yet. We imagine our names chanted by the crowd and the pretty girls in the white bedsheets (a.ka toga) serving us with the grapes and ambrosia.

But so what? How can anybody see if you working on something if you are not willing to show that you are trying, that you are tripping over? Businesses are built on feedback of your work, and if you are hiding it (“It’s not ready yet“) from public better than a male teenager does it with porno mags, then nobody will hear about you.

I find all these people who avoid sharing their project details to get the feedback – cowards. No, I won’t steal your idea. I have enough of my own. Besides, an idea is nothing. Execution is the key. And luckily for you, I won’t download/steal your mindset skills. It’s not Matrix yet.
Remember, there will be not so many clients willing to buy your product from the graveyard.

Perfection doesn’t exist

First version of Facebook, 2004

But making a decision, taking an action is way better than hesitating. Most of the businesses were started as a coincidence. The less thinking, the better. Instinctive impulse of launch. First TheFacebook cheaply written in PHP? I made equally beautiful fan page of The Sims, when I was 16 years old. But the difference between my and Mark’s luck was that his website engaged people and let them interact. Then more lucky coincidence such as involving Peter Thiel led Facebook founder to where he is today, and the domino effect of accepted stalking has never been better.
Would Mark start TheFacebook in this form if he was a perfect aesthete? Hell no.

Jump on the bandwagon

Marc Andreesen, co-founder of Netscape and developer of the first widely used web browser recently raised similar concerns in his blog:

Opportunities that present themselves to you are the consequence — at least partially — of being in the right place at the right time. They tend to present themselves when you’re not expecting it — and often when you are engaged in other activities that would seem to preclude you from pursuing them. And they come and go quickly — if you don’t jump all over an opportunity, someone else generally will and it will vanish.
I believe a huge part of what people would like to refer to as “career planning” is being continuously alert to opportunities that present themselves to you spontaneously, when you happen to be in the right place at the right time.
* A senior person at your firm is looking for someone young and hungry to do the legwork on an important project, in addition to your day job.
* Your former manager has jumped ship to a hot growth company and calls you three months later and says, come join me.
* Or, a small group of your smartest friends are headed to Denny’s at 11PM to discuss an idea for a startup — would you like to come along?
I am continually amazed at the number of people who are presented with an opportunity like one of the above, and pass.
There’s your basic dividing line between the people who shoot up in their careers like a rocket ship, and those who don’t — right there.

So the secret ingredient to growth isn’t striving for perfection. It’s about making decisions (however bad they may seem) and taking action. One action will initiate action chain, which results you can’t possibly predict. Every action can be this exponential tree of results. This blog is a result of my actions, and this is going to result in people finding out about me, my (imperfect) projects and that will lead to even more results. So it doesn’t even matter if I am doing things the wrong way, I know it’ll still lead to something.

Besides, imperfection bonds us. It makes us human, so the other humans are more willing to connect with you.

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