It’s been said that good is the enemy of great. The idea is that we so often settle for good that greatness becomes a rarity. There is, however, another word that is the true arch nemesis of both good and great: Perfect.
“Forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen
Few things result in creative disaster like the quest for perfection. Not only does it slow artists down — forcing us to second guess our instincts at every turn — it typically results in tame, watered down creativity. No one’s perfect. To toil away over our work in hopes of removing all flaws removes what makes our work worthwhile.
The pursuit of perfection leads to the deadly creative disease of analysis paralysis. Instead of allowing our minds to transverse freely between the two planes on the universe (as Steven Pressfield explained), we hand over our creative reigns to the cold-hard perfectionist that is our ego.
The quest for perfection not only stresses our system but takes our work farther away from resonating with others. It’s our flaws that make us relatable. Every hero in every journey has flaws and makes mistakes along the way. That’s what keeps us rooting for them until the end of the story.
There is a natural tendency when creating to sharpen all the edges and protect our identities from potential criticism. But we must fight the good fight and resist perfection. To be great, we must create without the fear of judgment.
So, please, stop waiting. Share your work and yourself — flaws and all.
And when you feel like you’re sharing too much — showing too much of yourself — know that that’s how you know you’re onto something great.