Perfectionism is the Enemy of Creatives

If you've been struggling to launch your work because you're a perfectionist, it's time to let go.

Perfectionism is the Enemy of Creatives
Photo by Arun Clarke / Unsplash

Years ago a friend and I were having a deep conversation about business and creativity over craft beers at a local brewery outside of Harvard. While I will never remember the place, I certainly remember the powerful words he spoke to me:

James, you have incredible talent and amazing ideas, but you’ll never achieve success because you’re a perfectionist. You just need to stop over thinking things and just fucking launch! Your “good enough” will be absolutely great to others.

I admit his advice stung me like a horde of hornets at first, but the more I thought about it, he was right. Perfectionism was and is my enemy and it’s kept me from launching my ideas and reaching my potential.

As an artist and creative, I want to do my best work, and the highest reward is not always monetary but people expressing gratitude for my talents. I want to design stuff people will love. This quote expresses my feelings perfectly …

I want to sell something I love to people that love it. - Make Your Mark: The Creatives. Guide to Building a Business with Impact

Most people desire to be appreciated. We want to be liked and our contributions valued. It’s no different for the ideas or projects we long to create. The problem is we often let perfectionism ruin any chance of producing the work we hope people will love.

Sadly our ideas and creativity will die within us because we didn’t believe it was good enough to see the light of day.

Good enough is great.

My friend David, a highly talented pianist from high school, was the epitome of a perfectionist. He was so gifted with perfect pitch that if you farted he could tell you what key it was in!

Yet David would scrutinize every piece of music he ever played or wrote, rarely releasing his songs because he could hear a mistake that 99.9% of humans would never hear.

It was maddening that he could create such amazing work but never publish it. I don’t think he ever reached the level he was capable of as a musician.

The truth is many of us are just as guilty of letting perfectionism keep us from achieving our potential and greatness.

At the brewery that night, Cory reminded me most people would never know if my website design was three pixels off or if that extra pencil stroke in an illustration made a difference. It simply didn’t matter. My good enough would still be great to others.

Stop being so damn anal.

There have been many times since that conversation I’ve created work for clients that wasn’t my best but still launched it. And you know what? They absolutely loved it!

Maybe the work we produce as creatives isn’t always perfect to us, but to the people we want to love and appreciate it, it most certainly is.

So it is time for us to stop being so anal about the stuff we create. It is time to let go of the perfectionism that binds us and be set free. It is time for us to reach our potential and greatness by launching our ideas.

Now go and create your life’s work and release it into the wild.

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