I attended a training program in Arizona—getting certified to teach fast-paced, energizing yoga/dance/fitness fusion classes.
Why? Purely just for fun. I wanted to take a break from my usual routine (writing deadlines, lengthy documents, publishing commitments, computer, emails x infinity) and try something completely different. Shake things up. Rocket-blast out of my comfort zone.
It was five days of sweat, creativity, kind people, and great vibes. I loved it.
And…I noticed something interesting.
The company that runs the program is an international, multi-million dollar brand with over 5,000 certified instructors to date—and now me, that makes it 5,001—and a loyal fanbase. A prosperous, thriving company.
On day one of the program, they handed us a big workbook with all the class materials.
The workbook had several errors. A few typos here and there. A missing word. One photo caption wasn’t correct. One sequence was out of date, as the trainer explained (“We don’t teach it that way anymore. I’ll show you the updated way…”).
The workbook wasn’t “perfect.”
It didn’t matter. Not even a tiny bit. The training program was fantastic. The curriculum was excellent. Lifelong friendships were formed. People literally cried when it was over and didn’t want to say goodbye.
Nobody cared about the typos.
This is the thing about perfectionism. It’s a pesky little monster. And it’s a liar. Perfectionism tries to convince you that your work isn’t “good enough” to be shared publicly—unless it is “perfect.” And yet, 1. Perfection is an aspirational destination that doesn’t actually exist, and cannot be achieved unless you are, I dunno, God. 2. Nobody cares about the little blunders as much as you do.
People feel the intention behind your work. They feel the big message. They feel the heart and spirit. They feel the vulnerability and courage. That’s what they remember. Not the fact that you spelled “the” as “teh” on page 42.
Best-selling books are released, all the time, containing typos. My friend Lindsey wrote an award-winning cookbook that’s missing the final steps for one of the recipes. Whoops.
Broadway shows roll nightly, even when actors occasionally flub their lines.
Barack Obama’s re-election team once released an important media campaign that misspelled the word “Congrssional.” Oops. He got re-elected anyway.
Oh, and Mayor Cory Booker (now a US Senator) took out a full-page ad, urging his constituents to “re-elect President Barak Obama.” First name, misspelled. Doh.
Even world leaders bungle things up. The globe keeps turning. The sun continues to rise and set. Life goes on. Love still blooms. Babies get born. Big goals still get achieved.
I once watched a world-famous researcher go completely blank onstage and forget the next part of her speech. There was an awkward moment of silence as she stared out into the crowd, mental wheels churning, mouth half-open. Then she chuckled at herself and strode across the stage—back to the podium—to grab her notes.
“Uh, give me a sec,” she told the audience, laughing at herself, shuffling through her papers. The crowd laughed along with her—kindly, not mockingly. I would bet $1000 that everyone in the room loved her even more than before, and felt even more connected to her, because of that “mistake” and how she handled it. Because of her imperfections.
Whatever you’ve been working on?
* That very-important email you’ve been hesitant to send out.
* The inspirational speech that you worry “isn’t inspirational enough.”
* The book. The song. The screenplay. The letter asking people to donate to your cause.
It’s probably good enough. It’s probably great. And, let’s be honest, if you spend another 10 hours pecking at it, fussing over it, double-checking, and mentally gnawing at it, will it become significantly “better” due to your efforts? Probably not. It’s probably as good as it’s gonna get. So, get it out there. Imperfections included. It doesn’t matter.
Don’t hold back, waiting for perfection. It will never arrive.
You are lovable, valuable, and powerful with all of your “typos” included—and so is your wrk. Oops, I mean work. Whatever. You get it.