As a young entrepreneur, it took me a while to understand the meaning behind “perfect is the enemy of good enough.” When growing your startup, striving for perfection is a natural habit.
We often neglect to get in our heads what “good enough” really means.
I had an epiphany the other day when I woke up at 4am to catch a return flight from Kentucky to DC. I went straight to work at The Global Good Fund and then decided it would be a good idea to host guests at my apartment for dinner that evening before leaving for New York the following day. After New York, I knew that I’d return to DC and within a few hours to unpack, repack, and set out again for Kenya. In other words, I’d packed to leave on a whirlwind, I was coming home in a whirlwind, and I was repacking in a whirlwind.
Suffice it to say that my apartment was a mess!
In my head, it looked like a disaster area – moldy food in the refrigerator that hadn’t been touched in weeks, dirty laundry strewn about, dirty floors scattered with unorganized paperwork, and sinks and countertops that needed cleaning.
I warned my dinner guests of the disaster they were about to walk into while greeting them at the front door.
But as we walked into the disaster area together, I realized it was all in my mind.
“What are you talking about?” my guests asked me. “This isn’t dirty.”
“In fact,” chimed in another guest, “It’s actually cleaner than my place.”
And that’s when I realized they were right. It was all (or at least mostly) in my head. Sure, the countertops could have been cleaner, but they were pretty darn clean. My bed was made, albeit strewn with a couple of hangers. The only laundry was in the hamper and the paperwork was stacked where it was supposed to be. The packing list I’d used to help me prioritize for Kentucky was ready to go for NYC, in advance of schedule. Call me anal.
This whole fiasco got me thinking about the pressure we put on ourselves when trying to take on the world as an entrepreneur. We sometimes aim for perfection to the point that we get inside our heads about what “enough” means – and we are always our own worst critics (both in our personal and professional lives).
Unfortunately, in this fight for perfection, the passion and the drive that inspired us to be leaders and entrepreneurs in the first place sometimes gets lost on others. I think imbalance comes across strongly when we are trying to be perfect in pitching our businesses to others.
When pitching your ideas to others, especially potential stakeholders and investors in your company, you want to put your best foot forward. But sharing your product/services and visions with others can be intimidating. As a result, you aim for perfection to combat your anxiety – and this is where the sincerity and passion gets lost.
One Way To Start Using The “Good Enough” Philosophy – Casual Practice vs. Memorizing Your Pitch
One way we can overcome anxiety of pitching our business ideas to others is through practice. When presenting our ideas in front of an audience, some entrepreneurs think it’s safe to straight up memorize our pitch to mask our nerves. If we know our lines like the back of our hand, then there’s little risk for us to fail, right.
The problem with memorization is that it comes off as insincere. When we put too much emphasis on getting things right and being perfect, the genuine excitement for our startup gets lost. And if others don’t see your passion, they won’t be enthusiastic about getting on board with your startup and initiatives.
How do you combat this memorization trap?
I’m not saying that when presenting your work or business in front of others that you should just wing it. But in order to truly share your passion with your audience, stop attempting to memorize your lines. Instead, practice your pitch several times before you go live in front of other people and then deliver “good enough.” By following this process, you will have a framework for the key talking points you want to touch on during your presentation and you will be able to maintain confidence and enthusiasm for what it is that you are presenting.
Be Okay With “Good Enough”
Stop striving for perfection and just get out there with your ideas and your mission. It’s okay if things are a little messy, just like they were in my apartment! When you are passionate and genuine (versus perfect), people will be more likely to warm to you and will be able to relate to you more. They will, in return, want to play a role in helping you build your business.
When you stop aiming for perfection and settle on “good enough,” you may just be surprised by what doors open up for you and your business.
Carrie Rich is the co-founder and CEO of The Global Good Fund, an organization dedicated to investing in the leadership development of high potential young entrepreneurs committed to social impact. Carrie enjoys photography, other people’s cooking and jogging, on occasion.
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