The perfectionists dilemma, delegate before it is too late
It is easy to say in retrospect that doing things differently would have been smarter. It is usually quite clear when you look at things from the lens of productivity and efficiency. Unfortunately, as a perfectionist, the instinct is to control, not delegate. I am aware of this tendency, but that does not take away the urge to control. What does help is recognizing the damage that perfectionist tendencies can cause and that there is a “good enough” that comes before my desired result. Often, getting to that “good enough” requires outside perspective, breathing deeply and letting go.
I could have spent days working on the design and flow of my website, after all back in the early 90s this was part of my work. In rebranding myself post-PhD, I began with the design of my website. Hard coding html is, needless to say, not the most effective way to build a website today. I wasted too many hours adjusting and tweaking an existing template to my desires. The reality that this work was better done by someone else sank in. I had neglected my real work, that only I could do, in the process. The clock was ticking.
I found a great web designer and delegated the site to her talents. The lesson did not end there. Once the site was done, I could not resist going in to “fix” it. By the way, there was nothing “wrong” with it, per se. The act of jumping in to fix/modify not only disempowered my designer, but also was not a high value action for my time/energy. I could have simply provided feedback with a list of changes for her. That said, the site was “good enough” to communicate with potential clients of my current direction and services offered.
Wasting precious resources to appease the non-productive tendencies of perfectionism is something I try to monitor in myself. Time and energy are limited resources. As an entrepreneur, life and work are intertwined. Relationships are critical for support, personal and business growth, and ultimately for success. Knowing when to ask for help and accepting it is not simply a matter of efficiency, it is trust building and strengthens relationships. Another’s perspective can often open new possibilities missed when working in isolation. An editor is vital to catch the minor errors we have overlooked while deep in the writing process.
That is not to say that having high standards are all bad. In fact, those standards can lead to excellent work respected by peers. Rather, when the standards are unrealistic to obtain within certain constraints: time, money and other resources, a realistic “good enough" to achieve the intended result must be established. That perspective, is something I need to delegate to a trusted person. I can neither provide it myself, nor should I. I am a still a work in progress. With a little help and perspective, deadlines and dreams can and will be met.