Perfectionism Is Just Procrastination With Better Marketing And PR
I made up that line completely randomly one day when I was just letting my thoughts meander. I made it my GoogleTalk (AKA GChat) status and ended up in a conversation with a friend who’s a psychology student about my mental health. She insisted me thinking that indicated I was not in my right state of mind and I insisted it was a joke rooted in spending the bulk of my time immersed in the world of PR, marketing, and advertising. I think she considers herself a perfect and was subconsciously perturbed by my one off line. Either way I still like the line to this day and feel there is some truth to it in a way.
Many people who procrastinate are doing it because they are trying to get things just right. They are sure with just another couple more minutes/hours/days everything will come together in whatever it is they are working on or planning exactly the way that will please everyone especially themselves. They are, in a word, a perfectionist. Sometimes they are also averse to risk sometimes it is a lack of confidence sometimes a combination of those and usually there’s a myriad of other factors involved. Whatever the reason, however, the person usually takes solace with themselves that they’re not procrastinating doing the task they’re just waiting for “the right time.” They are merely trying to make sure everything is done perfectly and aren’t trying to push it off – they simply can’t do it right now because…(blah, blah, blah).
How do I know this? Because I was, and still am somewhat, a procrastinator disguised as a perfectionist. It’s true, I admit it. Being a perfectionist sounds better though which is why I joke that it has better marketing and PR.
You may be wondering what the heck that picture is above and what it has to do with this blog post. Well, to be honest not a whole heck of a lot and at the same time a ton. That image is via Microsoft Office’s website for clipart. It is called Red Level Tool MC900441292.png and I found it in the Microsoft Office Clip Art found by searching for “perfection.” When I did that search, two audio files and that picture of a level popped up and I decided to just go with it. You know why I did that? Because this post has been sitting in my Drafts folder as just a title since November 30th. I have been meaning to write this post for a while longer but I kept procrastinating it. I actually started writing it – I entered the title and URL – one day and then started looking for images that signified and embodied perfectionism and came up with nothing. I searched “perfectionism” in Microsoft Office’s website for clipart and came up with nothing. I tried looking for “procrastination” and came up blank. I tried thinking of an image I could use to no avail. So I dropped it, I’d get to it later. Tonight I decided that enough is enough and now is later. So I did the search a little broader, found that image and voila I am writing this post! (And by now you’re reading it.)
(I made that sign at this link here.)
Remember we all suffer from analysis paralysis to some degree. We are told as kids to think before we act and speak. A famous quote is, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” I was raised on pearls of wisdom and they’re true sometimes but remember we are all also taught there’s such thing as too much of a good thing. So sure, think through your actions before you do them and before you open your mouth but sometimes just go with the flow.
As Nike says: “Just Do It.” Seth Godin has a new manifesto out called “Poke The Box” where he opines that we should all “Do It” as opposed to Nike’s “Just Do It.” He had a whole paragraph of well thought out amazingness to go with that thought but I don’t have it with me right now so I can’t include it. The whole book is a very short 80 small pages so you should read it for yourself anyway. The book is all about doing vs going with the flow and being a perfect cog in the wheel who refuses to ‘poke the box’ and see what happens. It is about iterating and being unafraid of failure. In the words of Dr Thomas Wayne from “Batman Begins” when talking to his young son “Why do we fall? So we can ourselves back up again.” (Update: The part of the book I am referencing is on pages 61 & 62.)
Usually I try to keep this blog as safe for work as possible so I am giving you a huge warning here: THE FOLLOWING VIDEO IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK! However, it is freaking hilarious. The whole video is all about not giving a f*%$. While I of course do not advocate it to an extreme like the one depicted in this joke video there is something to be said for the concept. I try to watch it every couple of months because it puts a smile on my face and encourages a more whimsical, let’s just go with it kind of attitude. Again, be warned, it is full of vulgar language. Enjoy!