Once upon a time when I was the worst CEO the world has ever seen. I was in charge of an emerging startup. We had just secured a beautiful office and some limited funding. I spent 3 weeks doubting which telephone system to acquire. I read about every single telephone system. I couldn’t make a decision. I wanted to make the perfect decision. Needless to say, we didn’t have phones for a solid 3 weeks.
I remembered that story this week when I saw a comment on a marketing forum that read something like, “Could you give me feedback or access to more marketing techniques? I have created a promotion inspired by my mentor, but made some changes that I thought were needed. However, I don’t dare to send it because it’s not the same as my mentor said”.
I asked this fellow entrepreneur, “Could it be possible that you don’t need more knowledge, but to accept that what you are doing is perfect? Could it be possible that it’s just fear stopping you?”
He was very kind and honest with me. He shared that he had sleepless nights as well as aches and pains about this decision. His body was shouting at him that he was afraid.
I can tell you the very first thing I did when I realized that the entrepreneurial world is radically different than the corporate one (duh!) was to look for a mentor. I paid expensive mentors. I followed their “paint-by-numbers” systems. I had some success. It was never comparable to their success.
I put them on a pedestal. I continued to admire them. I continued to emulate them. I wrote blogs following their advice. I made videos similar to what they did. I paid online for advertisement.
What did that bring? Expenses with little to no result. I would get likes on my posts. I would get re-tweets. Few customers. No more than that!
Anyone like me? Are you investing blood, sweat, tears, and money trying to speak, walk, paint, write, like it should be done? Are you trying to be perfect?
You know, Picasso was right:
“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”
It’s a fact that all artists start by copying. Look at the first paintings of Frida Kahlo. She was inspired by many, including Durero. Even Stephen King confesses in his book On Writing to have copied someone at the beginning of his career. Copying is the first step toward creativity. Confronting the white page (read “page” as entrepreneurship or motherhood or leadership or life) is really scary. We tend to look for role models to guide us, to show us how it’s supposed to be.
Doing that will make you a “good artist,” a “good leader,” “a good entrepreneur.” However, it will make you constantly doubt. You will be constantly comparing your performance with how it’s supposed to be. This choice generates the most dreadful thoughts of “I’m not good enough”. Of course, your results will not be as good as the one who you are copying. Even if you are a perfect copy, still a copy.
Let go of role models; become one yourself.
Let go of the idea that you know. You don’t know until you take enough action.
Let go of the idea that you need to learn before taking action, that you are not ready to take action. The only thing that teaches is action. When you take bold steps, you will learn. In fact, you will rewire your brain to greater self-reliance and possibility.
Let go of the idea of perfection. No one knows what perfect is. There is no standard to compare yourself to. Compare your output with your own lack of action. You will always win.
Learn by action. How could I talk about the benefits of cold showers/intermittent fasting/meditation/a morning ritual, if I just read about them? The only way I could sincerely, honestly, authentically talk about it is by making them mine.
Become a great artist. Let go of the never good enough. Learn by action. Inspire by action. Become a role model.
What is that you will dare to do this week? What will go out of the "one day" drawer into the "done" drawer? Inspire us!
Please, share your wisdom directly in the comments below. Let’s start a wave of vibrancy, excitement, enthusiasm for life. Let’s live fully!
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Make your week wonderful!
Photo by Julie Kwak on Unsplash.