I’m writing a book on Exuberance and it is really dragging me down.
The irony doesn’t escape me. Fortunately, I laugh now at this bit of cosmic humor.
I’d already written 400 pages by September, 2014 only to put the project on hold because I wasn’t happy with it. I explained to others that I needed to do more field research. That my material wasn’t ready for prime time. That I needed to rethink the structure of my book. Perhaps interview more “exuberant leaders” in the world of business. Get a better handle on my target audience.
Now it’s nearly April of 2015 and I realize that none of this is what has me stuck.
What’s really going on is that I have made this book so “important” and “significant” and “game changing” that I can’t finish it. Everything seems imperfect and inadequate against such a standard of perfection.
I have “perfection paralysis”.
My dear friend, Sonia Choquette, who has published 23 books, told me last week, “You need to be willing to write a bad book”. What? Me write a bad book? No way.
But she persisted. “You write the book you are ready to write right now and you get it out there. Let it start doing its work.” Hmmm.
I attended a weekend workshop last year led by the incomparable Sam Horn. I hoped it would give me the boost I needed to finish my book. I remember a charming rogue in the program who was unsullied by any perfectionism. He said to me, “I’ll take my ugly book any day over the book you ain’t got”. Wow!
In Beautiful Boy, John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”. While we are make our strategies “bulletproof”, our designs perfect, gather ever more data before we make decisions, stay with “the devil we know” rather than step into the unknown, life just keeps happening. We miss our window of opportunity.
The maps we draw are out of date by the time we walk out our door. The landscape changes hourly. Better to start our journey now with a clear destination in mind and trust our internal GPS to help us navigate as we go.
Remember the timeless wisdom of Vilfredo Pareto’s 80/20 rule. Applied here, 20% of my time and effort in writing my book will produce 80% of the value to my readers. And that will leave 80% of my attention for other things. Including my second book. That’s a trade-off I will take.
Where is “perfection paralysis” holding you back?
Ask yourself? Are you putting off a decision until you get more data? Waiting on “shipping the goods” until you polish things a bit more? Settling for a less than fulfilling relationship until you figure out all your options?
I hereby publicly declare.
I will ship my “ugly” book on Exuberance this year instead of making you wait for the perfect book that “I ain’t got”.
You OK with that?