Progress Vs. Perfection

 
twit1There are a couple of trends I’ve noticed among those I follow on twitter recently. The first is a belief that passive income is the path to success. That one isn’t wrong but it isn’t as easy as it sounds either. The other trend is the choice (maybe a false choice) between progress and perfection.
The Truth
It is true that if you wait until everything is known, until there is no risk and everything is perfect, you’ll never get started. Paralysis by analysis as it’s called. But that doesn’t mean you should settle. Strive for perfection while moving forward.
The Reality
In What Next I talk about the ability (metaphorically speaking) to hike or travel two or more paths at the same time. This is working a day job while pursuing a business idea you have, for example. Well the same is true with progress and perfection. Keep moving forward and when you fall short of perfection ask why and modify your course.
Simple Sells
The reason progress or perfection is presented as a choice or passive income is presented as the solution to success is that they’re simple. These choices let you off the hook. You don’t have to work hard because you have passive income – well that’s bull. It’s ok not to strive for perfection because at least you’re moving forward – also bull.
It may not be the simple solution you want, but the truth is, success is hard. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this and other similar posts. Don’t let yourself off so easily, dedicate yourself to doing the hard work and find true success.


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Imperfect

 
I’ll start with the bad news: to feel good about yourself, to have a sense of accomplishment, you have to set the bar high. The good news is that no matter how high you set the bar, you define success. For example, if you set a goal to reach the level of president in your company, a difficult goal, but only make it to vice president, you can decide whether you were successful or not.

This is a concept that is explored in my latest obsession called “Failure Club” a web TV show with Morgan Spurlock. The idea of failure club is to push yourself so hard that it’s almost impossible to succeed. An example from the show is Liz who wants to start a high-end handyman business and have 10,000 clients in one year. This is a lofty goal and if she only makes it to 5,000 clients she’ll have failed, or will she? The answer to that question is up to her.

By pushing ourselves, and setting difficult goals we really understand our limitations, our strengths and weaknesses. We define the line between perfection and imperfection. I thought about this after seeing this tweet from Greg (@StrategicMonk) during the #Inspirechat tweetchat.

Imperfection Tweet

Race FinishSurviving imperfection is what we all do on a regular basis and that’s good because it means we’re challenging ourselves as we strive for perfection. Think of an athlete missing first place by a small margin – that’s surviving imperfection because it was a learning experience.

The other part of Greg’s tweet is trusting yourself and confidence is a big part of that. Confidence in your ability and confidence that while you didn’t reach you initial goal you still succeeded. Here’s my story, a story only friends and family know, until now.

The Longest Day

After becoming an avid cyclist I set a goal of doing a ride called the longest day. The ride was so named because it was usually held on the weekend closest to June 21, the summer solstice. Oh and because it was a 200 mile one day bike ride from the northernmost part of NJ to the southernmost part of NJ (see my crude drawing of the route).LongestDay

I trained long and hard for the ride (it wasn’t a race) putting in over 1200 miles in the months prior to the Longest Day. I was ready and I was confident. The night before the ride we all met at the hotel we’d sleep at so we could start at 4:30 the next morning. I was on a team with three others and we had one support vehicle following us. My wife would join us half way with a second support vehicle.

It was cold as we started riding at 5am but at least it wasn’t raining yet. By the time the sun came up the rain started and we rode mile after mile in some very heavy rain. There were some breaks including a glorious two hours of bright sunlight and heat. Then the thunderstorms came. We tried waiting them out but made the decision to finish the ride. That’s when my teammates made a decision I wasn’t comfortable with.

Drafting

In cycling, the practice of drafting is riding very closely behind the rider in front of you making your ride easier because there is less wind resistance. If you can ride behind something bigger, say a truck, then it will be even easier. My teammates decided to draft one of our support vehicles, I refused. The roads were wet, the rain was torrential, and riding that closely behind a truck just wasn’t safe in my eyes, not to mention the fact that it felt a lot like cheating. Since it wasn’t a race I felt I’d be cheating myself out of the effort I knew I trained for.

I watched as my teammates sped away in the distance and I kept rolling on. Because of all the delays the hour was getting late and it was getting dark. My wife kept her truck behind me to block me from speeding cars. Annoyed that she was driving slow the cars would swerve around her getting much too close to me for her comfort.

The End

Finally at 8:30pm Julie pulls along side me and asks, “How do you feel?”

“I feel fine. Why”

“Can you finish” she asked.

“Of course, it’s just five more miles!” That’s when she dropped the bomb.

“Then get in the truck. You proved you can do it but one of these cars is going to hit you and I’m really worried.” We argued a bit but I could see the concern on her face so at 195 miles into a 200 mile bike ride I stopped. My teammates made it to the finish line but I feel I completed the task while they failed.

What do you think?


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