Momentum, not perfection.
The other day, someone wrote to me and said:
“Susan: I noticed a typo in your latest e-book. You really need to hire a proofreader. Typos are so unprofessional. I’m disappointed in you. You need to do better.”
That’s the condensed version of the email. The actual version was much, much longer. (For whatever reason, this person has a LOT of intense feelings about typos!)
Oh, and I need to mention… the book she was talking about? It was FREE. As in: zero dollars. A gift. No strings attached. And yet, this person felt compelled to write a lengthy email complaining about… one piddly typo. (Some people have interesting priorities—and maybe a little too much free time on their hands. Just saying.)
This email irked me, and it prompted me to write this little sermon about typos—and other mistakes—and why speed, momentum, and generosity are so much sexier than “perfection.”
Here’s the thing: every month, I publish 4-8 blog posts, I send out 4-8 newsletters like this one, I release 4 podcast episodes, I lead 1-2 webinars, and I often release a new digital magazine, e-book, or some other type of resource as well. All of these materials are free. I want these materials to be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, with no limitations.
Here’s the other thing: when you’re producing materials in a high volume—like I do—mistakes are going to happen. It’s inevitable. Even with me, my writing coach, and my assistant—three separate people—checking every piece that goes out, occasionally, typos happen. We’re moving fast and we’re human beings, not robots. So yeah. Sometimes “the” gets typed out as “teh” or “th” or “thi,” or there’s a duplicate word, or an unnecessary comma, and you know what? Nobody’s gonna die. It’s a typo, not a fatal medical error.
It’s wonderful to hold yourself to high standards. Hell yes. Absolutely. Aim for the sky. But don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the quicksand of “making it perfect.”
Do you want your work to be “perfect”? Because if so, you’ll be proofreading, triple-checking, fiddling, editing, and re-working every sentence for the next five years. Or maybe forever.
Or do you want your work to be excellent, helpful, inspiring, and—most importantly—finished? (I vote for finished.)
And hey, if you make a mistake? You’re in good company. Plenty of beloved authors—like Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond series—have written books that contained typos. Oops. It happens.
During President Obama’s first inauguration ceremony, Chief Justice John Roberts misspoke and said a few words in the wrong order. Doh! Live action typo. They had to “do-over” Obama’s oath. Embarrassing, of course, but Obama was super chill about it. (Just as you’d expect—he’s a gracious guy.)
The cast members on Saturday Night Live make mistakes all the time. Some of their bloopers are cringe-worthy, and some are hilarious. Either way, they move right along to the next scene. There’s no time to fixate and dwell. The show must go on. And because of that attitude, they’ve been able to churn out 42 seasons with over 800 episodes. It’s all about momentum, not perfection.
We’re all human beings. We’re all doing our best. Let’s celebrate each other’s hard work, creativity, generosity, and beautiful accomplishments instead of nit-picking each other—and ourselves—to death.
Lighten up. Work faster. Shake off those unrealistic expectations. As the saying goes, “Perfect is the enemy of done.”
If I was aiming for perfection, seriously, I’d never get anything finished.
I’ll choose momentum over perfection, every time.
P.S. Wanna shake up you writing and create more content with me? Check out my newest program here.