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I Fought Perfection and Perfection Always Wins… Until Now!

I was emailing one of my coaching clients just now and it reminded me of the song “I Fight Authority. Authority Always Wins”. Well, way back when, I used to sign “I Fight with Dorothy. Dorothy always Wins”. Just talk to my hubby about it and he'll start mocking me, with a little dance and high voice and all.

Well, Dorothy may be tough, but I'll tell you an opponent that's much tougher. This opponent along with her ugly sister together kick the butts of more marketers than just about any other. Together, they have crumbled more entrepreneurs than any other opponents.

Perfection and Fear.

Both Perfection and her mean, ugly sister Fear looove to see us struggle.

We can usually wrestle with Fear because we recognize her as hurting us. But Perfection? Well, she's just simply trying to help us to do our best, right? WRONG! She's the sweet one with her phony little voice, always telling us that we can do better.

How many times have you said this about your unfinished projects?

“It's still not good enough. I have to keep working on it.”

Another month goes by and you're still trying to make it perfect. And, another month. And, another year.

Of course, we all know the translation is “I'll never be good enough”, right? πŸ™

Guess what? It won't be perfect and neither will you, and that's OK! If I've told you once, I'll tell you a million times –

You do NOT have to be perfect to be profitable.

Why do you think I repeat it so much? Because I need to hear it, too!

Honestly, you know me by now and you know I do quite well online. Yet, I could do much much better if I could just get into a brawl in a bar with Perfection and kick her squirrelly butt.

I hope my coaching client doesn't mind, but here's what I wrote to him/her today. (Name is remaining anonymous unless that person chooses otherwise.)Β  Yes, I get a little snarky in my emails, but that's because this particular coaching client can handle it. πŸ™‚

One thing you should know about me is that I forbid perfection. I don't want it to be perfect or I'll make you slop it up, so don't get your head in a bundle trying to get it perfect.

You will NOT disappoint me unless you try to be perfect and it causes your progress to stall. That I won't tolerate. So, get your head out of your butt and get it done.

So, there. Print this off if you need to and tape it to your monitor, stick it on your fridge, sew it into your underwear, or glue it to your rear view mirror in your car. Heck, do all of the above.

Just repeat after me –

You do NOT have to be perfect to be profitable.

What are the takeaways from this?

1. Get some support from people who understand. Honestly, it helps. I'm not going to plug one certain mastermind groups or anything. Just connect with people who get it. If you'd like a personal recommendation for your situation, you can find me through Twitter in the links above or by leaving a comment below.

2. Be accountable. If you can't be accountable to yourself, than find someone who will make you get it done.

3. Get a coach if you need someone to kick your butt. Tiger Woods has one. (Obviously he should have had a marriage coach, too.) Michael Jordan had a coach. All the greats have coaches.

4. Don't beat on yourself. It's hard enough to get the confidence to make mistakes and to build a business in the first place. You don't need someone punching you in the face the entire time.

Obviously, this is an emotional post, but I hope that it gives you permission to be imperfect AND be profitable. I'm going to go now before I get teary again.

Please leave your comments. I'll be back tomorrow to read them. And, thank YOU for sharing time during your day with me.


PS. You do NOT have to be perfect to be profitable.

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Sam

    Great post. This is something I have always struggled with. Not just in business, but in many other things as well like when I was doing projects back in school or small things like trying to get that last speck of dust cleaned from my glasses so I can see “perfectly”. I guess sometimes it’s just a matter of letting go, and I find if I can do that, I can move faster and get a lot more done.

    • Nicole

      EXACTLY, Sam.

      Oftentimes I see people fretting over trying to make something perfect for so long while their competition races to market and beats them to it.

      Sometimes it’s simply about creating something that helps others, then just putting it out there and seeing what happens.

  • Adam Bean

    Ahh a John Cougar fan!! I was beginning to think I was the only one left.LOL

    I totally agree with you on this on Nicole. If it’s near perfection and sitting on your computer where no one can see it, it’s not going to benefit anyone.

    Get it out there and fix it on the fly is my mindset.
    Action is King even if it isn’t perfect action.

    Cheers Adam Bean

    • Nicole

      Exactly, Adam. My name is Nicole Dean and I’m a recovering Perfectionist. πŸ™‚

      It wasn’t until I realized that what I had to offer could truly help people, before I started kicking my own butt to get outta my own way and get ‘er done.

  • Dan Reinhold


    That’s great! I’ve got this IMperfect thing locked!!


  • Denise O'Berry

    Oh Nicole, this post was so … perfect! That’s what’s really cool about imperfection — we get it right most of the time. I wish they would put billboards up in every city with your PS on it.

    • Nicole

      OH MY GOODNESS! You are kidding me. Did I tell you my idea?

      I want to buy up a bunch of billboards and put positive messages around the US in conjunction with some of my favorite non-profits, especially in areas with bad traffic jams. lol. How funny. Great minds really do think alike.

  • Arika

    Ahh yes, perfection and profitable are two things that don’t mix.

    As you well know, I am a perfectionist – correction I’m a recovering perfectionist! πŸ™‚

  • Scott Tousignant

    Wicked awesome post Nik!

    Perfection is the worst goal that you can aim for because it’s something that can never be achieved.

    I embrace my flaws and you know what? My readers enjoy how I keep it real and even leave in some of my mistakes.

    I’m consistently improving my work but I never wait until it’s perfect before I put it out there… as I know you have experienced with some of my work πŸ™‚

    Striving for perfection leads to a lot of self abuse and guilt. That will stop many people dead in their tracks.

    Embrace imperfection. It’s something that allows your uniqueness to shine.

    You ROCK Nik!

    • Nicole

      Thank you, Scott!

      I love your quotes:
      “Perfection is something that can never be achieved.”
      “Striving for perfection leads to a lot of self abuse and guilt.”

      I might have to sew those into my undies, too! lol.

      I did some research on this topic, and it appears that, during the Renaissance there was a paradox –

      “if the world were perfect, it could not improve and so would lack “true perfection,” which depends on progress.”
      – Wikipedia

      So, since we’ve agreed that perfection is unachievable, isn’t it just better to get your product into the market so that it serves its purpose and helps others?

      Plus, in hindsight, I think it was pretty darned egotistical of me to think that I ever COULD make a perfect product. That would mean that I knew *everything* and could not improve – which would, right then and there, kill my business because I would stop learning. Correct?

      YES, I love your uniqueness as well, Butt Brain! πŸ˜‰

      Pssst. If you don’t know why I called Scott a Butt Brain, you must not be in his course. His sweet little girl sneeks into his videos regularly and started harassing him in one, by calling him a Butt Brain. lol!

  • Alex

    Superb motivating post Nicole.

    You’re beginning to sound like Mike Litman!


  • Steve

    Oh no! A dissenter! I don’t know that I completely agree with you, Nicole. I understand about perfection causing inaction, but we also need to try to do the best work we can. Our blogs or websites will nto do will if wrds are spilled incorctly andother mistakkes.

    I don’t know if Garrison Keillor still signs off his podcast with the phrase “do good work” but I always liked that. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be good!

  • Mark Mason

    OK – I will jump in here. I am the mystery coaching client.

    Agree with Steve — work needs to be very good. You have no way of knowing this Steve — but that is not an issue with me. I take a lot of pride in my work — so good easy to hit.

    The issue Nicole was helping me with was more about “good enough” and specifically about using perfection as a way to procrastinate.

    We are working on a HUGE project that is pretty overwhelming, especially given the limited amount of time that I have to spend on it. She left for an week and I did not accomplish much. I offered a few excuses and got clobbered. LOL

    As an aside, working with Nicole is one of the smartest and most satisfying decisions I have ever made (and I have made lots of great decisions in my life) πŸ™‚

    Thanks Nicole!

    • Nicole

      You’re such a good guy to let me pick on you. πŸ˜€

      Of course, you do great work or I wouldn’t have agreed to coach you in the first place.

      By the way, got your email and I’ll be watching for that video & optin page, so back to work for you! πŸ™‚

  • Valerie

    I recently read (or heard, I have slept since then) that what Microsoft does is set a deadline for their latest product and that is when it goes out, flaws and all. They then use money from all the profits they make to hire experience people (I call this stimulating the economy) to fix the flaws. If they chose not to release it until all the bugs were fixed, it might never get released……

    I hope you don’t mind, I am passing on this link to my home school group, we are knee deep in the middle of a discussion of knowing our kids can do better and frustration this time of year. I think this will help.

    • Nicole

      My hubby used to be a Software Engineer and I can vouch for what you said about Microsoft.

      And, certainly. You may pass on links to any of my posts. The more, the merrier.

  • Pat

    Nicole, it sounds like you’re giving Mark exactly what he needs, and what I need too! Thanks to the both of you for sharing this experience with us.

    I often preach about not having to be perfect to be successful online as well. It’s exactly how I got started. But, it’s so nice to hear it directed back towards me through your words.

    I would also like to suggest that a mastermind group would be a great way to make sure you stop worrying about being perfect and start getting things done as well. It will accomplish everything you mentioned as far as having a support group, holding yourself accountable , comprising of coach-type people to help you out and kick your butt, and a confidence booster so you don’t beat yourself up.

    Thanks again Nicole for this timely post. All the best to you!

    • Nicole

      Thanks, Pat. You know I’m a fan of your blog, so thank you for stopping by!

      Cheers from one imperfect and profitable person to another. πŸ™‚

      • Pat

        Thanks Nicole! I’m fairly new to your blog, but quickly becoming a huge fan as well.

        Looking forward to seeing more from you and Mark this year πŸ™‚

  • Annemarie O'Bea

    Great Post– How timely. I just met with my sister and business partner Monday and committed to saying ” 2010 will be the year I beat Perfectionism”. I’ve suffered with it for years, and lately all I find lately is that it makes me feel overwhelmed and become completely frozen and unproductive.

    Thanks for the frank comments, a kick in the butt in the name of perfectionism is really exactly what I need.

  • Gina Parris

    I feel like you’re a new favorite of mine too. Lynn Terry turned me on to you when she nearly spit out her lunch on the table when I said I didn’t know you!

    Thanks so much for the refreshing words. I like to say that the reason so much of my life is “perfect” is because within that perfection I make a HUGE “grace barrier” for all the crappy stuff. It’s part of what makes it real, like the Velveteen Rabbit!
    (Shoot, shouldn’t I post an Amazon affiliate link there?)

    Keep playing hard,


  • Linda

    Nicole, you are welcome to write me snarky butt kicking emails anytime! πŸ™‚

    Loved it! So true. Just like Arika I am also a recovering perfectionist- gee it’s hard to kick that habit! πŸ™‚

    It’s important to reach completion – not perfection.

  • Jen Knox

    Holy cow, Nicole…talk about that old saying, “when the student is ready the teacher appears”. Perfect timing!

    I struggle with this. Big time. “So get your head out of your butt and get it done”. Consider that “sewn to my underwear”. πŸ˜‰ LOL!

  • Roberta (Jeanie) Fye

    Hey Nicole, I just had to tweet about this article. You Rock! I am the same way! I let my need for perfection get in my way all the time! (winks)!

    Keep on keepin on!

  • Mark

    The second time this week (and it’s only Monday!) that I’ve had this message thrown at me. I guess someone up there is trying to tell me something…

    So I’d like to stand in front of you all and openly declare that I too, am a recovering perfectionist!

    As of now “Productivity Not Perfection” shall be my new motto.

    Thanks for the post Nicole. Consider yourself bookmarked!

  • Laurie Lacey - Natural Healing Talk Newsletter

    This is a really good post. Trying to be perfect is a killer to online progress! Often, perfection goes hand in hand with fear — in other words, our struggle for perfection is often the child of our fear.


  • Loretta

    You mean I don’t have to be perfect to be profitable? Whew, that’s good news, cause I’m sure not perfect πŸ˜‰

    I think I’m going to sew this in some pretty red undies and mail it to you

    /runs off giggling/

  • Mike Massie

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Nicole. Perfection slows down profits. Best advice I ever took was to just be “good enough” and then improve things based on user feedback.

    Thanks for this article!

  • Karen McGreevey

    Terrific food for thought, Nicole.

    It reminds me of an article I wrote a while ago, “Procrastinatoritis and Self-Esteem Dropsy.” Like your post, my article centered on the “get ‘er done” now instead of letting all the roadblocks keep you from being a success.

    Thank you for the reminder to keep moving forward, even if everything isn’t “just so.” Who’s to say what “just so” is anyway? πŸ™‚

  • Mary Lutz

    Wow, This is so perfect! (pun intended) I just made “reaching for excellence” my new motto; I also noted in my post about it that I’m reaching for excellence, not perfection. I know I’ve allowed lack of perfection stop me from doing so many things…NO MORE! Here’s another recovering perfectionist!

    Thanks Nicole πŸ™‚

  • The Mom

    squirrelly butt? Okay, that had me laughin’.

    But, this had me tearing up… “Don’t beat on yourself. It’s hard enough to get the confidence to make mistakes and to build a business in the first place. You don’t need someone punching you in the face the entire time.”

    I’d have to agree. If you beat up yourself, it’s one thing. But to have someone ELSE punching you in the face the entire time, well, that’s just unforgivable. Obviously, an emotional post for me, too.

    In other words, surround yourself with positive, like-minded people, and avoid negative people.

    You get from life what you give to life.

    I’m taking a break now to digest this deep thinking phase of my day.

    Thanks, Nicole, for the interesting, ass kicking post. Geez… your mother must have done something right to have you for a daughter. πŸ˜€

  • The Mom

    btw… I can vouch for the “I fought with Dorothy and Dorothy always wins…” mistake. I was too busy chuckling to correct her when she was singing along as a kid. Sorry, Nicole. πŸ˜€

  • Gail

    Great Post Nicole, It has helped me a bunch. I sit all day sometimes working and then just think this is not good enough and so I start over again. I am like a dog chasing his tail and never really getting there because I keep starting over. I am gonna try to break this habit and just be a little good and move on. I am glad to know someone else feels this to.
    Gail J Richardson

  • Jill

    I just started a Mastermind group in my town. OUr first topic was ” Repeat this mantra – I do not have to be perfect.” so easy to day – so hard to follow through on. I will be sending this post to all the members of the group – Thanks!

  • Rome Saranto

    Thanks for the awesome post Nicole, it is so very true

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