Like so many of us, I like things done right. But sometimes that translates into not getting things done at all because doing it right turns into some monumental, earth eclipsing plan that would take more hours, manpower, and money than recreating NASA. Why? “Because this thing is NEW, it’s innovative, it’s gotta be done RIGHT!” I say to myself. “I can’t just schlep through this…it will take time…”
Or I’ve just given myself an excuse not to do it at all.
There are days I worry about missing something so much that it paralyzes my ability to produce anything. I worry about my audience – who will read what I’m writing? Who will critique my research? What if everyone laughs and points? What if?? Those are not good days. My grandmother had a saying on her wall which I attribute to some of my foundational thinking on perfectionism: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest; until your good is better and your better, best.” Wow. I wonder if the guy who wrote that even bothered getting up in the morning. Like Sisyphus, that daily rock of perfectionism is bound to get heavy…and keep us from really getting things done.
And then enters Social Media – blogging, twitter, facebook, online access to what we said yesterday because nothing ever, ever gets erased once it is put online–where pretty much anything we do in our lives in any sort of public space is open for others to see, analyze, critique, point to and laugh at. And they will. And they do. And then I realize something-something a bit profound for me, but probably talked about a lot in those “worst case scenario” books. I realize that having the world as a stage is in some ways a huge relief.
Social Media gives us all (or most all in this land of ours) an even playing field to be criticized or cheered. When we are all on stage together, there is a transparency that relieves this burden of “what will they think” because we are all thinking the same thing: “hey, I hope I don’t get too much ridicule up here.” And because we all are thinking that, we are more real with each other, and probably kinder. And through being transparent over time I’ve gotten a tougher skin…I can handle a bit more than I could before-because I don’t feel like I’m so alone in not being perfect. You aren’t either, and I know that on this social media stage.
Which brings me to my title: Great is the Enemy of Good. Yes, yes, Jim Collins, Good to Great and blah, blah, blah. I agree with Collins on many counts, but my point is not to counter his point – it is to say that with greater transparency and speed via social media, we are going to make mistakes-all of us-and we shouldn’t fear the mistakes. We should make them and JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD. We should, at the expense of the immense Perfect Plan, just get things done. Doing a good job beats getting nothing done any day. I have a friend who is wonderfully creative, disciplined and productive. I asked her one time how she did things and she said, “You know, stuff gets done with a lot of daily plodding along.” Really? You plod along, too? You don’t do things perfectly in a flash of genius on a daily basis? Add wisdom to that list of her attributes. Plodding isn’t greatness-but it’s good enough to get things done. And hey, those things may turn out to be great-but even if they don’t, they are done.
At 12:06 pm each day I listen to The Writer’s Almanac on the radio. Garrison Keillor talks about what happened on this day in history, gives a bit of biographical info on people and reads a poem. It’s a short radio segment, but one that marks the time for me each day. He ends each segment with the phrase,” Be well, Do good work, and Keep in touch.” Did you hear that? He didn’t exalt us to great work but GOOD work. His phrase is a daily reminder to strive not for greatness or perfection, but for goodness-and for getting things done.
So, we’re going to misspell a few words on our blog posts. We’ll probably use bad grammar, too, at some point. We might get misinterpreted and have to say things over again in case our point gets missed or skewed. We might get laughed at. To this I say: so what? At least we’re doing things-GOOD things.