In this month’s ezine, I share my lifelong struggle with perfectionism, a characteristic identified by a school buddy in fourth grade in our new-age encounter group called "rap." She said that I always had to be "Perfect Pam" and it bugged her. (I grew up in Marin County, California which was the hotbed of touchy-feely education in the 1970’s.)
Although my work life has been far from "perfect," I do get hung up occasionally when I receive criticism or prepare to launch a new project.
This mentality can be deadly for new entrepreneurs, as you have to get your ideas winging out in front of your customers and peers if you want to make headway on starting and growing your business. My mentor Andrea Lee summed it up with the liberating phrase:
Give yourself permission to suck!
I have the full article here, but here are some tips for shaking yourself free from the bonds of perfectionism:
- If you have been in business for awhile and want to offer something new to your clients without making it free, call your first offering a "pilot" program and give participants a discount in exchange for some feedback. If they know that they are participating in something that is still under development, they are more likely to be very helpful with feedback and not critical of your program.
- Identify a "mastermind partner" who is in a similar place as you are and offer to exchange feedback on each other’s work in progress. Just knowing that a peer that you respect struggles with similar issues will help you break out of paralysis.
- Join a business forum for your industry and participate in a discussion board. I see this all the time in many industries from coaching to software development, and I am amazed at how thoughtful and detailed peer feedback can be.
- Identify a group of test users to give feedback before you release a product for sale. Invite some friends or clients to participate in a pilot or trial. Give them the final version for free as thanks for their feedback. (An added bonus: if they enjoy the product, they can offer you a testimonial to use in your marketing materials)
- Let people know that you are releasing a product or service in stages, and set expectations for eventual upgrades. As an example, I recently started a podcast and knew that I didn’t have everything I wanted in place for the ultimate product. But I wanted to start it, so every two weeks when I record a new one, I upgrade one part of the program. The first show I used recording software that was not my ultimate choice. But it was good enough. The next time I used the right software. Then I moved the programs to the correct hosting platform and provided subscription information. Next I will include a professionally recorded introduction and music. Because I keep my listeners informed of my progress along the way (and share information with them about how I am doing it in case they want to do the same thing) I don’t worry about having to have everything in place before starting the new project.
Am I the only one that has struggled with the nagging feeling that everything I do or write is a piece of crap? What have you done to overcome this feeling?