This might seem unorthodox, as we’ve all been told otherwise, but perfection is your enemy – not your friend. Perfection can seriously stifle positive momentum and is generally a pointless waste of time. That’s why Productivity Ninjas avoid perfection at all costs. Continue reading to find out why perfection is productivity’s enemy and how you can shift your mindset.
First, let’s talk about the idea of perfection. If you’ve been on one of our time management workshops, you’ll know how valuable your time and attention are. We’ve all been there – reading through the same three sentences, checking thesaurus for a “more intelligent way” to articulate the same idea over and over again…but is this really the best use of our attention? Rather than spending hours on trying to perfect your output, embrace the state of flow and ship a hundred new things. At the end of the day, those last minute changes rarely make any difference, so might as well accept the imperfect.
Speaking of imperfect – let’s face it, we all are!
Productivity Ninja, Not Superhero
Although we might sometimes appear to be, Productivity Ninjas are not superhuman. As a Ninja you’ll develop a reputation as someone who delivers, someone who is reliable, makes good decisions and takes their work seriously. But not as someone who is perfect. We are all prone to screwing up now and then – no matter how organized, how intelligent, or how seemingly perfect we are (or are trying to be). And that’s OK.
One of our favorite parts of the ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja‘ book is this reminder:
“We can aim for perfection and fail. Or we can aim for Ninja Zen-like calm, ruthlessness, weapon-savviness, stealth and camouflage, unorthodoxy, agility, mindfulness and preparedness, and succeed.”
The choice is yours, but why set yourself up for failure?
Making Mistakes & Learning From Them
Throughout various Productivity Seminars, we keep on hearing people associating making a mistake with failing. We all make mistakes from time to time – that’s part of being human. Those mistakes don’t define us and our work, the way we react to them and move forward does.
It’s time to switch our mindset when it comes to making mistakes. Mistakes aren’t necessarily a closing door for future possibilities. Now, obviously if you keep on making the same mistake over and over again without ever switching gears, some doors will eventually start closing. But mistakes actually provide us with the opportunity to work on correcting them and make it better than what we have previously planned. If things go wrong, don’t just abandon your plans just because it didn’t work out. Use this time of uncertainty as an advantage to develop yourself and your skills. Apart from the obvious area in which a mistake has happened, it might also shine light on other areas which we didn’t notice needed improvement. All in all, it’s a great place to be in – if we accept it, practice Ninja agility and are ready to move forward.
If you reflect on your mistakes, learn from them and avoid making the same ones again, you can easily move on. Use your mistakes as a way to showcase how dedicated you are towards conquering them. Prove to people – but most importantly, to yourself and your own confidence – that you are strong enough carry on. This is merely a reminder of us being human, not a reflection on our skills.
Embracing the Anti-Perfection Mindset
For many years we have internalized that all we need to be aiming for is perfection. Will you accept our challenge to move away from it and embrace being human instead? Here’s how you can get started…
1) Set realistic goals – A project or a set of actions feels more in control the more clarity you have around it, not the more you have done it. Before you get started on any task or project, take a step back and ask yourself: “Am I clear on what I need to achieve here?” If there’s even a shadow of a doubt, go to your manager or consult your team. Diving into work and desperately trying to stay afloat and achieving goals without gaining clarity first, is a recipe for disaster.
2) Slow down – In today’s world, we’re constantly connected, always checking emails and on the move from one meeting to the next. Whether it’s in our email training, facilitation training or our productivity training – we always hear a collective sigh when discussing the pace of today’s workforce. It’s time to slow down. As soon as we take the time to really engage with the people around us and the work in front of us, we’re instantly less likely to make mistakes. Plus, we’re also much more likely to actually enjoy the hours we spend at work.
3) Ask for help – You don’t need to know all the answers. You don’t have to possess all the skills. There are people around you who can lend a helping hand or a brain to be picked. Instead of staying quiet and stressing yourself out about tasks you can’t complete or questions you can’t answer – ask the people around you. You’ll be surprised how much calmer your life is once you accept help. Obviously don’t forget to return the favor when the time is right!
Now it’s your turn! Shake off the need to be perfect and embrace being a Productivity Ninja instead.
This post was originally published in August 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.