Sometimes “done” is better than “perfect”

Posted by on Aug 23, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments

On August 1 Bryna and I officially unveiled a dream—our company, 2fold. It is the effectuation of an idea sketched onto a cocktail napkin 10 years ago, and the opportunity of a lifetime to do what we love every day. As new business owners it has also been an opportunity to make a million mistakes a day, learn from them, and do it right the next time.

Amidst a daily barrage of decisions to be made, emails and phonecalls to be returned, and projects to be completed, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Not so much by the workload, but by the fear of “messing up.” Mistakes appear to come at a higher cost when your livelihood is on the line. And more importantly, when you truly care about the outcome.

Yesterday one of my favorite collaborative designers, Bryan Connor, sent a tweet that I think sums up a sentiment a lot of us can relate to:

Caring about your work is important. The greatest work always comes from passion, in any field. But passion inevitably comes hand-in-hand with another quality that is not always a good one—perfectionism. When you care, you want it to be just right. When you want it to be just right, you risk going down one of two paths:

1. You become paralyzed by the thought of even starting the task until you know you have the time to do it exactly how you envision it in your mind; or

2. You start it, but then become caught in an endless loop of revising and iterating until you can finally deem it perfect and hence “done.”

In my experience, neither of those 2 paths ever leads to “done.”

It was when I put together some recent advice from Bryna with Brian’s tweet that I realized I was walking down path 1 with the launch of the 2fold blog. This being a task I volunteered to take on, I had envisioned launching an amazing forum for design and business discussion with an inaugural entry that perfectly described the story of how Bryna and I came to have this dream, and how we were going to take Baltimore by storm with our unorthodox business model. This was a big deal, it was important to me, it had to be just right.

So I never started it. I feared that anything less than my perfect vision would appear “half-assed” and unacceptable.

Then I reminded myself of a mantra that I’ve been repeating and practicing a lot in the last few months—sometimes, “done is better than perfect.” If you never put it out there, never make the decision, then you haven’t moved anywhere. You haven’t helped yourself or anyone else one bit. And as it turns out, none of our completed projects have been failures, and none of our business decisions have destroyed the company. We’re not a perfect company, but we’re out there. Our clients are happy. Our business is thriving. And I have a list that actually has things crossed off.

As for the 2fold blog, no, this is not the launch that I had envisioned. Maybe it’s not perfect, but you’ve stuck with it this long so it can’t be that bad. And though I don’t know for sure, I suspect it’s because passion-derived perfectionism is not just an affliction of designers, but rather lots of people. So I’ll end this post by repeating those words that I think are so important for all of us passionate people to remember:

Sometimes it’s really ok to say to yourself, “done is better than perfect.”

And with that, I’m done.  ; )