Overcoming The Need to be Perfect In Order to be Great

There’s always one piece of art, book, or music composition that we think of when we think of the greats. From Mozart to Godin, we know and think of exceptional people to have been perfect in their art. However, the notion that exceptional people have to be perfect right from the get-go is misleading at best, and harmful at worst.

People’s idea that, to be great, their work needs to be perfect before it can be published or put into action, turns out to be the exact opposite of what they need to be doing in order to be great! Greatness, like perfection, is in retrospect, or, in the future. The only certainty for today is the work you put in now. So while you might work and produce a lot of pieces of your specific art, not each and every one would be exceptional.

One of the greatest American novelists, Henry James wrote over 20 novels, several hundred short stories, many biographies, travel writing, and literary criticism. The painter, Pablo Picasso is believed to have made over 50,000 pieces of work during his lifetime, averaging at least one a day and composer, Sebastian Bach composed over 1000 pieces of music.  However, all these artists are known only for a few of their works.

Seth Godin, one of the most well-known bloggers of our times and bestselling author of 18 books, writes one blog post every day. During an interview with Marie Forleo, he emphasized on the idea of doing something well enough every day, so that we can only get better at it!

Quantity leads to Quality

When you do something every day or do it many times, you can only get better at it because you are essentially practicing it. Be it writing or executing ideas or brainstorming creative ideas, the more you do it, the more you train yourself to get better at it. Hence, in order to create exceptional, revolutionary pieces of work, we need to first get into the habit of creating a lot of pieces!

Each Piece Markets Itself

When you create a lot of pieces, one step that ought to be common is maintaining a certain level of professionalism. While you are bound to improve in style, the basics must be solid. Each piece must be created as though it is the piece that all your other pieces will be judged on. If you’re a blogger, every blog post ought to be well written, spell checked, and free from errors before posting it.

As a writer and speaker, I make it a point to write on my blog every day and to speak at an event every month. The reason is not to get ‘famous’ or ‘rich’ but because I love doing it and because everytime I do it, I get a little better.

Whatever your calling, be prolific.

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3 thoughts on “Overcoming The Need to be Perfect In Order to be Great

  1. Sanah Rizvi Post author

    I think Perfection is a momentary state. For example, a person may write a piece they think is perfect. But when they revisit that piece months or years later, it may feel incomplete or sub par. As far as definitions go, they are man made, yet abstract. As much as we try to distill and simplify our world, we end up complicating it more. A complete definition in English will still be subjective to one in Hindi. I do agree that thoughts can be perfect and I think that’s where the disparity begins. We see the world one way, but it often works out a slightly different way.
    Thank you for you comment!

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  2. S K Verma

    How does one define the term ‘perfect’? Is it possible, at all, to have a complete definition of the term? In my view, thoughts can tend to approach perfection, however, actions can only be optimal. Optimisation is a function of resources and environment at hand at any point of time. I completely agree with you that perfection can be approached by practicing the thought process again and again. I commend you for a very fluent writing style.

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  3. Pingback: Why The Next Big Thing Is Already Here – Sanah Rizvi

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