Leave The Garage Door Open

3 min listen

Mitchell D. Pousson II / December 22, 2020

Ah yes, the classic dilemma all perfectionists face is that the work never feels good enough.

We've all muttered the phrase: "It's almost ready, just needs a little bit more revising" or "I'll have it to you by Monday, just want to fix a few things first."

Thomas Mann once said, "A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."

This keen observation is applicable for any type of creative endeavor.

Whether you're building an app or a software product, composing a song, or starting a blog—knowing when the work is ripe for public consumption will always be a subjective hurdle.

The truth is: just about anything we put time and effort into will always feel unfinished.

You can tweak it for days—changing minuscule, irrelevant details that the people it was meant for will never even notice and you STILL won't feel like it's ready.

"Rome wasn't built in a day" is one of the many cards inched forward when attempting to justify why the thing we were supposed to do isn't done yet.

Like many of our problems, it seems that this one derives from the all-too-common ego affliction that we are constantly fighting off as humans.

Since the work I'm doing represents me or the perceived notion of me, it has to meet MY standards.

The issue is that all of this ME talk leads to stormy inner weather stemming from delusional expectations—begetting a piece of work so self-focused that it neglects the very people it's meant to serve.

So how do we alleviate this insufferable self-doubt that often disguises as an unhealthy dose of procrastination?

We Leave The Garage Door Open.

Opening the door for feedback is critical when wrestling any sort of creative endeavor. Many know this, but the level of vulnerability required to let others see your unpolished creation stops them in their tracks.

Chuck Palahniuk, the acclaimed New York Times Best-Selling author, has an interesting way of overcoming the fear of garnering feedback for his next novel.

He indiscreetly pitches the novel's bare-bones at cocktail parties or in other social environments and then carefully gauges the audience's reaction.

By doing so, he is creating an open conversation with the people his product is meant to serve.

This practice effectively acquires the helpful data needed for emboldening his next pen and paper sit-down, where he can then scratch the ideas that didn't land while further developing the ones that did.

So how do we partake in a process that holds us accountable for doing the work in a way that doesn't neglect the audience it's meant to serve?

The 6 S's

  1. Ship the work when it's almost ready not 100 % ready (cause it never will be).
  2. Send rough drafts, prototypes, and early versions to coworkers, family, and friends (accountability is good).
  3. Substitute the outcome for the experience (thankful I get to do this no matter what happens).
  4. Share ideas (good or bad—ideas create motion and clarify purpose).
  5. Suppress the narrative (although your life might feel like a movie at times, it's not—merely do the work).
  6. Self-doubt is what it is (nobody in the history of humanity was ever fully sure until they did it).

If you follow these simple guidelines, you'll suffer less and so will your work.

Removing ourselves from the impact we seek to make enables us to identify much more clearly what it is that we need to do.

This is how we help ordinary people conquer extraordinary obstacles.

Sign up for our newsletter