Embracing Imperfection

In the process of launching my company, I routinely wrestled with things not being perfect. I thought, “Don’t I need a perfect web site, social media presence, elevator pitch, presentation, business plan, and so on? Who will hire, pay or endorse anything less than a coach who has her act completely together?” Well guess what? It doesn’t work this way. Not even close.

Embracing Imperfection In Public Speaking

The first presentation I ever did was to a women’s health clinic. My intent was to educate and engage a dialogue around the value of coaching on health outcomes. With over 20 years spent in clinical research prior to becoming a full-time coach, I appreciated that clinicians expect data. So I researched extensively, produced a PowerPoint presentation to the best of my skill set, and practiced until I could give the 15-minute talk without notes. You never know quite what you look like until you video yourself presenting. I discovered funny things about what the left side of my mouth does when speaking in front of an audience. Like the opposite of Bell’s Palsy, as I speak my lip just takes on a life of its own. Sticking a mental thumb tack to come back and see if I could make my face behave, I surrendered to the weird mouth thing hoping content trumped my appearance. Progress requires compromises, right?

Not new to presentations, ahead of the date I asked for a description of audience/headcount, available tech resources, and the meeting space. My presentation accommodated what I was told. When I arrived – well, let’s say that my expectations and reality had almost nothing in common. So what’s a coach to do in that situation? I sought humor. You see, my own gynecologist is a provider in the practice. When she arrived, I offered “well, my presentation might be a bit overkill for the circumstances so at least I can say that of all of the presentations I will ever give, you’re the only audience with intimate knowledge of my undercarriage” and pressed on.

“Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you got, and fix it along the way…” ― Paul Arden

The dance (ok, tug-of-war) between the ideal and the reality of a first generation product is one entrepreneurs do frequently. Regardless of the product being a website or a widget, we want it to be perfect. It’s a familiar refrain that motivates exceptional work and then yanks hard on the short leash of our ego.

For anything we strive to produce as entrepreneurs the first offering is the opportunity to hold it up to the light, look at it, poke at it, test it, break it, and ultimately revise it. Perfection can’t be the goal. Why? If we wait for perfection, the first offering might never happen.

How do you know it’s good enough?

As you contemplate any initial offering, your internal dialogue might go something like this, “Will people laugh, ridicule, or worst of all, ignore it?” Yes. That happens. So ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. Do I know that it’s a good as I can get it with the resources I have available now?
  2. Am I proud of the effort to get it to this point?
  3. When considering this first version – do I know everyone, including me, has given their best to the endeavor?

If the answers are all YES, that’s the moment to share it. Of course there may be fear, anxiety, and trepidation. It comes from the concern of what others will think. Hello ego! In my case, my first company presentation was utterly imperfect. Yet my answer to those 3 questions was YES!

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” – William Faulkner

When we reframe our perception around releasing something new, we create space for opportunity. So breathe deep, lean in, and take that requisite leap of faith. Share your first generation genius with us. Do not concern yourself with what isn’t optimal yet. Instead, focus on what’s becoming optimal, the amazing-in-progress, and press on!