The Subtle Yet Insidious Power of Procrastination
Part 2: Perfectionism is the Silent Killer
“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”
― Lorne Michaels
Lorne Michaels, the showrunner for Saturday Night Live knew this all too well. For the better part of forty years he has faced the pressures of deadlines; ensuring, without fail that a live television show is put on air every Saturday night. Now we all may not have face the sheer volume of responsibilities of Mr. Michaels, but in our own ways we have all been there.
Perfectionism is the proverbial double edged sword. Sure, we want what we do to be as close the sun that is the light of perfectionism as we can. It is actually a noble pursuit. It drives us to be better, to work harder and to strive for quality.
The trouble lies in when we become paralyzed by it. Why even start if it is not going to be the best article, the best song, the best painting ever to grace the walking Earth?
Is this article perfect? Hardly. I can see all of the errors, mistakes and awkward phrasing. I try to patch up and tighten it and still I know it’s not the best thing you will ever lay your eyes upon. Did it deter me from writing it? Honestly, sometimes it did. What it did not do though is stop me.
Every action you take is based off of information you have acquired before this very moment of your life. Your brain has been working tirelessly gathering information. You are now sitting reading these words based off the years (decades?) you have spent learning to read.
Let’s face it, when we started to read we were horrible at it. We started from a place of complete unknowing. But by slowly, bit by bit we listened. We learned. And now? You are reading with the best of them. It’s almost damn near effortless.
Perfectionism becomes a badge of honor with you playing the part of the suffering hero.
— David Burns
Instead of having the achievement of perfection bring us to a stand still we must continue to write, seemingly without purpose at first we meander in the dark until we find our rhythm. That rhythm starts to produce results.
Are the results the best thing that humankind as ever written since putting pen to page? More than likely not. What you have started to do is crush through that barrier of wanting into a state of doing.
In other words, stop your whining and start typing. Claw, push, cry, have self-doubt (you’re allowed) but don’t stop. Let perfectionism be the little guy on your shoulder nudging you along, not the all-seeing all-knowing gatekeeper that keeps you from exploring, making mistakes, learning and growing.