On not being perfect

It has been a while since I wrote a blog post.

I was in the groove for a period last year, writing one on average every 1 to 2 weeks.

I spent time on it, perfecting every word, creating cool images, really THINKING about the reader and trying to make it as useful and brilliant as I could.

It takes (me) a long time to make it flow and be chatty, relaxed and informal you know.

But then the school holidays happened, and the extra childcare also collided with some large projects. I got new clients. I tried to still have picnics in the park with my kids (they just wanted to play on the PS4) and still be available for calls with my customers.

So the blog fell by the wayside, because I couldn’t spend the time I had been.

‘I’ll get back on it in September’ I said.

But no. In September we sold our house, and bought a new one.

Then the joys of the UK conveyancing system took over my life for the next three months (goodness me that process needs some Lean Thinking) and then we actually moved house and things got worse as we bought a new house (the Construction industry also SERIOUSLY needs some Lean Thinking – buying a new build has opened my eyes to a whole new level of customer dissatisfaction and quality issues….but that’s for another post).

Anyway, long story short, life got more complicated.

New ‘projects’ came up.

Priorities changed.

The activity (writing) that was so important (and so so useful in many ways) to me before, now became very hard to prioritise.

I had zero confidence that I could do it without spending the time I had before.

I heard people talking about spending an hour writing a blog post…..an hour? It would take me at least a day! No way I could write something worth reading in an hour.

But I missed it and I knew I needed to do it.

It struck me today, during a conversation with some of the brilliant Women In Lean, that my dilemma is very similar to the dilemmas held by CI Managers, Change Leaders, Lean Leaders across the globe.

There is always a list of a million things you could be doing, be helping to change, be implementing, be learning. Hundreds of things you probably want to focus on.

And some of the important ones you put off. Because you want to do them perfectly. Thoroughly. With all of the attention and focus you have given them before.

That pressure you put on yourself can stop you even starting.

I guess it is fear that holds us back.

Fear of doing it wrong (So what? You can learn from it).

Fear of looking stupid (So what? Probably, no one will even care, and if they do they are not worth worrying about).

Fear of people judging you (So what? As above, if they do they are not worth worrying about).

Of course, if you are making a big change that affects others, or that could impact your customer, you have to make sure you put enough thought and planning into it.

I don’t dispute that for a second.

But maybe there is a way to test it.

To try something small.

To experiment.

And then PDCA your way to a better version.

Isn’t that the essence of Continuous Improvement?

My challenge this evening (thank you Karyn Ross) was to write something and post it.

‘It does not need to be perfect! You just need to start!’ were her words (which I then wrote on a sticky note and stuck on my wall right in my eye-line).

So I did.

This post took me 29 minutes to write.


The really ridiculous thing about this?

I am ALWAYS giving this message to clients. To stop overthinking projects, and to just get started. I often use Tom Wujec’s brilliant Marshmallow Challenge to demonstrate how just starting and experimenting can really help teams on projects.

But it seems I don’t listen so well to my own advice.

So do you ever do the same? Do you put things off because your internal critic or because you want to do it perfect?

If not do you have a way of silencing your inner critic or a way of kick-starting yourself into action? Please let me know in the comments.

On not being perfect

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