“I’m getting stressed out just listening to you.”
He was sitting across from me, the head of the internship program I had only dreamed I would be accepted into.
I was telling him about my drive to succeed, to get it perfect, to do right by this organization I loved so much.
“I have homework for you,” he said. “I want you to go out there, and I want you to get a B in this internship.”
To me, a B meant that I could have tried harder and given more. Why would I ever purposely do less?
Our internship didn’t give out grades, of course, but that wasn’t his point. His point was that I was hurting myself and my role. My desire to provide high quality work, while good, was making me slow to complete projects and think creatively. It was making me unable to take risks and try things. And it was stressing out the people around me.
I’d like to say that my inclinations as a young intern have totally left me, but that’s not true. Being an entrepreneur has forced me to act with imperfect information, to try things I’m not confident I can do well, and to live in a world where I’m rarely certain what the right next step is, and that’s all great… but I still get physically uncomfortable if I find a minor typo in an email I just sent.
So I remind myself to get a B in my business.
I can’t say I’ve mastered this, but if you’re in the same boat, know that you’re not alone.
The goal is never to give less value to our clients, but it is to pull the trigger and send things (like this blog) out into the world. If you’re like me, let’s get comfortable with the journey and the mess and the failed experiments and to keep taking action. We can make decisions faster, give things a try, and empower our teams to do the same.
They say that perfectionists don’t become the big success stories….let’s build amazing, imperfect businesses and prove them wrong.