There is no such thing as a ‘perfect moment’ and there never will be. But there will come a more perfect moment should you get started in the present. This week, I want to share in more detail how I dealt with my inner perfectionist mindset and overcame it by doing the obvious: making a start.
The Infinite Ladder
Picture this, any creative endeavour can be mapped to a single ladder. Let’s call this the Infinite Ladder. Infinite because nothing can ever be perfect i.e. there is no endpoint denoting perfection. There’s something everyone can do to become better whether you’re Bill Gates or the person who’s never written a single article.
Now imagine each step as being one step closer to a more perfect iteration. The perfectionist will attempt steps too wide to climb, therefore ending the ascent before it even begins. The pragmatic creator will attempt steps wide enough to require an element of skills development but not so large that it feels unattainable. An example of such steps for someone wishing to write regularly may be:
- Step 1: turn ideas into short tweets.
- Step 2: turn short tweets into threads/tweetstorms.
- Step 3: write the first article.
- Step 4: commit to a schedule and write regularly.
All whilst asking for feedback at each step and making active 1% improvements with each iteration. So really, everything is in your control. Assign steps on the ladder wide enough for your personal growth needs but not so wide that you fall into the perfectionist mindset. Then take the first step. Each subsequent step will be easier than the last, and sooner or later you will have reached that ‘perfect moment’ you once imagined.
But, what you’ll crucially realise is that this ‘perfect moment’ now moves higher and higher up the infinite ladder as you get better. Don’t worry, this is what we want. This allows us to keep improving. The Japanese call this Kaizen.
Once you realise the Infinite Ladder can only be climbed in one direction and that is upwards, then you will very rapidly leverage the power of compounding gains and be more comfortable taking the first step.
If you’ve never driven a car, you wouldn’t hop into one assuming you could drive.
Similarly, if you’ve never attended law school, you wouldn’t expect to win a legal case.
So, why would you miraculously expect this in your creative pursuits?
That’s all there is to it. Keeping this analogy in my mind has allowed me to pursue multiple projects this year and make heaps of improvements in all endeavours without ever feeling the need for a ‘perfect moment’.
The perfect moment doesn’t arrive before you start. It arrives after you start.
Break down any creative pursuit into sub-units. Assign adequately spaced steps to reach what you believe is the ‘perfect moment’, then take the first step. This is the start of your Infinite Ladder.
Once you reach your ‘perfect moment’, reflect and identify areas for further growth and continue your ascent up the Infinite Ladder.
[Reply] to this email with your creative pursuit, the ladder you’re climbing and the steps you are taking — I’ll add my two cents.