Stop Striving For Perfection

Or How I Overcame My Fear Of Writing

I remember when I first heard about blogging. The thought of typing out my leadership insights and ideas thrilled me. Then those same thoughts terrified me.

Soon, they turned from excitement to dread. Why?

Because I was caught up with the idea my work needed to be perfect. I had to strive for perfection.

Perfection isn't for leaders

I Was Foolish

But I was also normal. Everyone who has the desire to create art wants to do so with perfection.

They want their work to be above criticism. They want people to love what they do.

I was striving for perfection.

The truth is this often isn’t possible. Especially as you first start out.

I couldn’t be perfect in my writing. I didn’t know how to write well. And I felt foolish

So I hid.

I hid behind a blog that wasn’t being shared. It wasn’t something I thought I could be proud of.

There were multiple blog posts that were written that I never shared with the world. I even hid the promotion of these posts from my friends and family.

This fear of not being perfect was foolish.

I had to break free from feeling shame that my work may not stack up to the likes of Michael Hyatt or Dan Miller, 2 men I highly admired.

I Was Less Foolish

Eventually, something clicked. I came to the realization that my work will never be perfect. There will be flaws.

I will misspell a wrod here or there. I may even use incorrect grammar.

Regardless of the quality of my work, I had to begin sharing my writing if it was to begin to improve.

The day I first promoted a post on Facebook, I quaked with fear. Crazy thoughts ran through my mind:

People are going to laugh at what I have to say

No one will want to read what I think

I’m going to screw up and someone will point out my mistakes

All these thoughts ran through my head. Then they quieted when people began to read my imperfect work.

Soon, I even heard from friends, family, and strangers that they enjoyed reading my thoughts on leadership.

Man, was I foolish for being scared of my writing flaws.

Stop Striving For Perfection

When I was striving for perfection, I wasn’t giving myself the freedom to explore. To have fun in writing.

By leaving behind perfection and going for quality content rather than perfect content, I began to feel a freedom in writing. Soon it became fun.

Perfection is good, don’t get me wrong. The better you are in your craft, the more people will take notice.

However, you won’t always be perfect. You’ll make misatkes.

Don’t let that desire to be perfect stop you. Move ahead anyways.

You can do this. You can make a difference!

Question: Do you let your desire to be perfect hold you back? Let’s share our answers in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Thanks for another great post Joseph. Trying to be a perfectionist really is a huge problem. I’ve suffered from it in the past as well. And I see a lot of younger folks suffering from it too. The key is finding that balance between excellence and being a perfectionist.

    • Glad you enjoyed the article Kenneth. Perfectionism is a problem. We hold ourselves back waiting for us to do the greatest work possible. How have you overcome/fighting your battle with perfection?

      • Good question Joseph. Over the years, I’ve learned when to stop. For example, every post I write for my blog is written the way I talk and is written as a public journal entry. Each one is a complete thought. And I know I can change it in the future if I want.
        To be excellent at things, I have trained myself to always be learning, every day, so much so that what I teach or write today is the result of preparation over the past many years. I rarely need to research before I write a post.

        For medicine, I do the same thing but have chosen a few reputable medical journals and textbooks that I can quickly check my thoughts with if I have any doubt. But I’ve learned to love to research and learn so much so that I’m usually ready before I need it. In short, I think the secret to overcoming perfectionism without sacrificing excellence is 1) to be continually learning and recording your learning when no performance is needed. 2) to not have your self esteem tied to your work so that if people criticize your work, you don’t take it personally.

  • Joe, this will encourage other members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook, so I’ll share it on the media page God bless.

  • Seth Godin loves to talk about launching before it’s ready. Many products get updated with new features, that improve the overall product. Same goes with writing, blog posts, etc. Key is to be consistent. Some of our posts will be great, some not so much. But we’re out there, writing consistently. The world needs us, so if it’s good enough, launch!

    • Exactly Mike. I’ve always liked the idea of shipping and then being able to correct any errors later on.